Garo Garabedyan's Divergent Thinking Blog

Business trip in Finland

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I am on a 3 and a half week long business trip in Helsinki, Finland and I would like to share my impressions about Finns and their culture and lifestyle. My impressions prior visiting in person Finland, a Scandinavian country, can be expressed with the following drawing of a blonde young woman reading a book in a windy forest:

A blonde woman reading a book in the wind

I wanted to have a more detailed picture of how the Finns behave in life and work. I can happily share that Finns are very relaxed people who take things easy. What I can say for the short period I was in Finland is that Finns are little bit closed at least at the beginning of a friendship. In Finland the weather, except in July, is not for outside events and people stay most of the time in their homes.

Suomenlinna Sea Fortress, an island of about 15 min. with a boat from Helsinki, is a very beautiful place.

I was expecting a bad weather and I have took some university projects with me to finish them while being in Finland but happily the weather was excellent for trips in Helsinki and around it in spare time. At the picture from the island the wind blows very powerful but you can still come here and relax and have good time. We have got lucky visiting the island in a good weather and the place has that autumn beauty not seen for a while.

Working in a foreign country for such a short period of almost a month is not enough to get a general picture of how people work. The team I have joined are primarily technically oriented. Interestingly even the HR Manager has a second role in project management and a solid background of technical project management.

In Finland lunch is very fast because you pay a fixed price for it and eat as much as you need from an already cooked food. You do not wait for a waiter to take your order, the kitchen to prepare your lunch according to your wishes and later to take the bill and pay for it. Things are very simple and efficient.

In Helsinki Finns are proud of their high quality water. Here is more about it: http://www.hsy.fi/en/waterservices/drinking_water_and_water_quality/Pages/default.aspx

Finns respect their presidents. But it is very interesting that despite of the high respect towards the President he can be seen walking with a single bodyguard only going to shopping and no one will bother that the president is 5 feet next to him because presidency for the Finns is like every other job but for 4 years.

Finns are extraordinary direct. They have simply introduced the work to be done. We knew that good project managers are supposed to define the roles of the team members and leave them with as few as possible supervision. We knew that good managers should meet with all the people they manage (no matter if he/she is poor or good performer) and discuss their future in the company. These hard learned lessons of people management are the natural way of how Finns and maybe all Scandinavian managers work.

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Written by garabedyan

October 11, 2012 at 11:02

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