FINLAND: Why have Finns been so successful?

Michael Gates   

A Dutch partner of ours just asked me why, if many Finns are of so few words, they are so successful. He had been posed this question by a course participant, and struggled for an answer.

I wrote a quick list and thought I’d post it here…

  1. Your client seems to equate talking a lot and answering quickly with success. I would argue that a better route to success is to listen, wait, and be economical with words. The Japanese have been successful too.
  2. Reactives tend to do very well academically. Look at academic achievements globally, and East Asians and Finns are usually at the top of the various tables.
  3. Finns achieve a lot very quickly with few words, even if meetings can seem really slow: it’s an illusion. I was 15 minutes late for a meeting recently because my taxi was late. When I got there, I said ‘did I miss anything’ and the chair replied ‘the meeting is over!’ Typical.
  4. They have enormous persistence, grit and guts – Sisu.
  5. They have little ego or narcissism. Manfred Kets de Vries, the clinical psychologist, says he admires Finnish managers more than any others in the world because of this.
  6. They are not deceived by charisma – which can be a dangerous quality for persuading people to do the wrong thing.     HelsinkiHELSINKI
  7. They are realistic and don’t get blinded by exciting (but possibly unworkable) ideas.
  8. They don’t get too carried away by winning, or despondent about losing.
  9. Difficult situations make them try harder, not give up.
  10. They are incredibly reliable, so the boss only has to say something once and people feel empowered to work on their own, with no micro-management.
  11. They are non-conformist, eccentric and inventive mavericks (Linux, Angry Birds?)
  12. They are flexible and can re-invent themselves – Nokia is doing very well these days, without making phones. Used to make toilet paper, tyres, rubber boots. Just keeps changing according to the circumstances.
  13. They are pretty adaptable internationally.
  14. They are calm, and never panic.