Fabulous article here from USA Today on sauna parties and Finnish corporate culture. The writer relates his experiences first hand, but I have a heard a great story, second hand, about a Dutch friend who was at Nokia’s headquarters in Finland for some high level negotiations. After hashing out some details, he was invited by the top brass to sauna. I think this is an excellent business technique. Here’s the article. or the gist of it:
Naked truth on Finnish business strategy: Start with sauna
I had come to the Finnish Embassy to meet Linus, perhaps the world’s most famous Finn and the progenitor of the Linux computer operating system.
This little party here, co-hosted by Wired magazine, is partly to show off Finnish technology but is largely for Linus, because he’s on the cover of Wired‘s November issue.
I was looking forward to talking to him about Linux’s growing success, the SCO lawsuit that threatens it, and how a country with 5 million citizens, who live in the same neighborhood as Santa’s workshop, has managed to become a tech powerhouse.
But Linus couldn’t be here. Had to go to a wedding or something. So I have to make do with the father of the father of Linux. His name is Nils Torvalds, and in Finland, he’s a well-known TV reporter, now assigned to cover Washington. Kind of a Nordic Sam Donaldson.
And he’s in the sauna.
In fact, the first thing I learn from Nils is that the sauna is part of Finland’s competitive advantage — one reason, for instance, that Nokia dominates in cell phones. Most Finnish companies, even small businesses, have a sauna on the premises, he says.
The Finnish Parliament has a sauna. Nokia has a sauna in its headquarters. Nokia CEO Jorma Ollila built one of the world’s largest saunas at his summer home.”