Scandinavia from an American perspective

When I coach someone and when I help companies to develop a marketing plan I often try to get them to mirror themselves in someone or something that is alike, because when you do that it suddenly gets more obvious who you are and what your values are. Features that are hard to recognize because they otherwise are so natural. We call it ”home blind” in Swedish. You don’t see yourself with an outsider’s eyes.

Therefore I have read the blog written by the students from Business in Scandinavia (Chapman University, Orange County, California) with delight and interest. They have written about their journey to Scandinavia, including Gotland. I have picked a couple of interesting examples, but if you search on their blog you will find more thoughts worth to consider.

Yuka Tomita writes about ”Humble Volvo”:

”Throughout the day it became clear just how much Volvo adhered to doing business the “Scandinavian Way”. When asked questions as to how Volvo compared to competitors or whether the company made superior vehicles, the response was along the lines of we’ll show you what we do, and you can make the judgment for yourself. There was no bashing of the competition, or inflation of their activities and products. In all public presentations, there was more of a simple relation of their competencies and innovations, which all gear towards improving the driving experience.”

In Sweden we often say to each other that we have to get better on selling ourselves, dare to brag a bit more, highlight ourselves and sometimes we even say that we need to become a bit more ”American”. Then Yuko comes to Sweden and emphasize humbleness as a positive quality among Scandinavian companies. Maybe it’s because she’s from Japan and for so many years we have heard that the Japanese and the Swedish culture have a lot in common? But, what if humbleness is something that might impress on the Americans? That the Swedish way to be humble is an advantage and not a disadvantage when we meet people from cultures where they are used to bragging? Just because ”everyone” in a country behaves in a certain way it doesn’t mean that everyone living in that culture likes the way it’s done.

Jay Woraratanadharm writes about ”Survival through Adaption”:

”In a rapidly evolving world of technology, people nowadays are doing more things on the go and utilizing their mobile devices more than ever. The result of Nordea’s new strategy namely in the form of continued profits will be unveiled in the future but I believe that they are making the right change in doing so. When we walked around the Scandinavian countries, we noted that public transportation is everywhere. People are not as likely to stop at a physical store in order to conduct their transactions or even perform inquiries.”

Jay connects the Swedish public transportations with the idea that it makes it more necessary to get solutions for internet banking and bank-apps in their smartphones. I never thought like that. Well, I have thought that people who travel by public transportations probably use their smartphones a lot, but to think that the transportations makes it’s less possible to stop here and there to ran errends, like going to the bank, that thought was new to me. But, when I read his thoughts about that, I also start to wonder if public transportations makes Swedes better at developing apps for smartphones?

Scott Shaffstall writes about ”Green Tech? Try Green Culture”:

”These countries and cultures are not perfect. But this, to us, is a somewhat smarter world, a somewhat better world. It is a world that many around the globe could learn from. As business students, we too often focus on profits and on… profits. But if you cannot look your fellow man in the eye and be proud of what you do, if you cannot look around your cities and wilds and see that your grandchildren will enjoy the same splendors that you have… then how are you really profiting at all?”

Scott and Jeff was exploring the prevalence of green tech during their journey in Scandinavia and discovered that it’s more about a Scandinavian culture colored by a green way to think. This makes me proud! I think that most of us who lives here thinks more about what doesn’t work and how we can make it better and forget to be proud over the things that we already have performed. We are actually quite good at thinking green in Sweden and it’s possible that we are even a little bit better here on the island of Gotland!

Jessica Price writes about ”Scandinavia Adventure: Endless Summer Daylight and Meat and Potatoes”:

”The passageways were dark and the steps were thin and there was rarely any light. What was unique about this experience was that there were no rules or regulations. Staff members weren’t even on hand. Rather, there was a small sign that said “Climbing these passageways is at your own risk.” How awesome, we had the freedom to explore! It was eye-opening to me and it was a little weird not having someone watch over me. I felt like a kid again! I noticed that throughout Scandinavia there was a freedom to explore.”

Jessica explored the old part of Visby on her own and got delighted when she found out that she could climb in church ruins without anyone watching over her. She thinks that people and companies in US are afraid to give that freedom to visitors because they are afraid to get sued, but here in Sweden we trust that she can take care of herself. My heart gets warm when I read her story.

Read more about their experience of Sweden in their blog! You will find a lot of interesting thoughts.