The land of “Lagom” has its exceptions

(Or -:I will get critique.. But hey that’s cool, I´m toying with stereotypes)

“Lagom” is a word only used in the Swedish language and constructed to explain how Swedes ought to be brought up and look upon Everything we do in life. How much we eat, how much we work, how much se(… how babies are made) we have. Well, we may do what everybody else in the world does as long as we do it with moderation.

“Lagom”= To not do something to excess. For doing the latter would be showing off and that is So not Swedish.

I am a typical Swede that grew up in typical Swedish suburbia in a typical small Swedish town in a typical Swedish upper/middle class family with a Saab car outside in the driveway and at times there were two.

-:Oh, you forgot the “typical” at the end there Tompa… No I did not. And here´s the reason why:

Although lots of things may be “typical”, Saabs will never be just that and neither will the look on Saab be that of traditional Swedish norm.

Saab is not “lagom”. Saab does not want to eat pea soup and pancakes on Thursdays like everybody else. Saab is the venturous bad boy that instead wants to test if pickled Herring goes together with sauerkraut and custard. It will not be to the liking of all, but once tried… hey, you might actually like it.

Saab may be commonplace in Sweden, but Saab will never be “just a Saab” even on home soil. Saab has always gone in a different direction from that of the “typical” or the “Norm” or the “lagom” in Sweden. Sometimes it’s a wonder that Saabs are built the way they are and look the way they look…

You see, in Sweden we do not “stand out”. In Sweden we tend to instead feel a bit embarrassed by the fact that we can do something good. Oh, on the inside we are prouder that proud but we never brag. No I´m not saying that all Swedes think alike but its “typical” Swedish “proper” behavior to do things “lagom”.

Saab is Swedish but does not have the proper “lagom-ness” to be as fully accepted as it´s larger Swedish rival. Saab is more than a box on four wheels, with it´s eye catching looks and sophisticated technique…. it´s also a little bit more expensive than the other Swede. And the “Lagom” Swedes go: – How dare they?! That is So not “Lagom”

Robin M´s Aero getting the Not so “Lagom” treatment

So what is a Saab? Well to Me Saab is a car built in Trollhättan by people that dare to be different, dare to stare the evil that is “Lagom” in the eyes and say :- We will not build something that is generic and accepted by the masses. We want to build something special that will be Loved by those that dare to go against the mainstream mediocre. We want to build beautiful and cool but with a “steady as she goes” to make the end result sophisticated and smart.

The Slogan “Move your mind” is a good one. I interpret that as to not settle for “Lagom” but instead Go for a Saab.

Cheers/Tom

 

Smithy
Guest
5 years 5 months ago

Don’t you guys think that Saab has experienced a lot of shit storms thanks to the wide-spread practice of the so called “Jante-Law” in Sweden?

“Don’t YOU ever try to even think that YOU are better than WE are!”

Niklas G
Guest
Niklas G
5 years 5 months ago

Indeed, in Sweden, it’s a little bit like “if you want to be like everybody else, buy a Volvo, if you want to be a little (lagom 😉 ) different, go for a Saab”. 🙂

Rostnes
Guest
Rostnes
5 years 5 months ago

Thanks for a great post Tompa, and I can´t agree more!
Saab is for people who dares to stand out and go against the masses…..
My next Saab will not be the expected one…I promise you that!

Charles
Guest
Charles
5 years 5 months ago

I think I’ve settled on the NG 9-5 SC. I probably won’t see another for years in my location down here in Texas. Saabs are rare, new Saabs are even more rare, and wagons are basically out of the question (of any make).

maanders
Guest
maanders
5 years 5 months ago
Not being a native Swede (but a 4th generation American of Norwegian descent), I have some sense of Lagom (it was cultural in our family to try hard, do your best, but do not call attention to yourself). But as I have become familiar with the Saab community over the last 11 years of owning a Saab, I think owning a Saab does not make you stand out by saying “Look at me! See what I have!” (…perhaps a BMW, but not a Saab 🙂 ), but it does make you stand out just because your choice is different from… Read more »
Peter Friis
Guest
Peter Friis
5 years 5 months ago

Excellent post. I think that’s exactly how it is.

Tomas TL1000R
Guest
Tomas TL1000R
5 years 5 months ago

We are a complicated country with some weird tensile but we are good at so many things.
I dont even know where to start. But we are living in the “vodka belt”
http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vodkab%C3%A4ltet Thats why we are not so great all the time. In that case were not so “lagom”.

José Galvão
Guest
5 years 5 months ago

Never knowing it, i´ve allways felt that way…
SAAB´s are diferent by people who dare to do and think diferent..
SAAB´s are to those who ask questions without settling to be just sufficient…
That´s why i like it so much…
I´m not so “Lagom”
lol

900_S
Guest
900_S
5 years 5 months ago

Heartily agree, Tom. I enjoy driving something “different” yet not in a snobby/superior way. Proud as proud can be, but not in a boastful way. And I think the Saab philosophy takes from the lagom idea, in that it blends performance with economy and safety–everything in moderation.

Barbapappa
Guest
Barbapappa
5 years 5 months ago

I would say, on the contrary, that SAAB is what it is thanks to the two concepts of “lagom” and “Jante-law”, which by the way are the best thing that have ever happened to Sweden, since so many good things derive from it.

Ying
Guest
Ying
5 years 5 months ago
Very interesting piece! I have lived in multiple countries and there are some similarity of ‘lagom’ in other cultures too: – The Japanese has the concept of conformity , to stand out is to be expelled by society. – The Chinese has a saying: “The hunting rifle shoots the bird that pokes it’s head out”. ie, don’t stand out fromthe crowd. – The Aussies even have a social taboo of “Don’t brag about your achivements”, and if you do you will soon be brought down to earth. – The Brits secretly flaunts their achievements, but it has to be done… Read more »
maanders
Guest
maanders
5 years 5 months ago

Badges?!? We don’t need no….

🙂

Eagle63
Guest
Eagle63
5 years 5 months ago

In Canada too, but with less ‘big mouthness’…

Ying
Guest
Ying
5 years 5 months ago

I found this interesting article: What characterizes a Swede and the Swedish mentality, some unwritten laws on how to behave in Sweden!

http://hubpages.com/hub/What-characterizes-a-Swede-and-the-Swedish-mentality-some-unwritten-laws-on-how-to-behave-in-Sweden

North Toronto Punter
Guest
5 years 5 months ago
Always a pleasure to read your thoughts Tompa (and I thought the interview with CJ was a gem!). Culture, ultimately, is contested (Ying: I’m always dubious of these ossified Fodor-type ‘How to Present Oneself in a Foreign Setting’ paint- by- number guide books….they ultimately implode upon themselves when real life intervenes). And if allowed to don my now dusty Anthropologist ‘s Pith Helmet — there are no cohorts (beyond 2!) where the potential for mis-understanding doesn’t reign. Or ( as I prefer), the possibility of bridging difference. Always been sensitive to the danger of petrifying (not to eliminate) difference (and… Read more »
Troll96
Guest
Troll96
5 years 5 months ago

Thanks,Tompa, for a nice piece. So much has been said about Saab being different, and built for a more discerning clientele. If this is the case, do you think that Saab’s non-lagom persona suggests that it will not, perhaps cannot, become a substantially more successful (i.e. bigger) auto manufacturer without losing its identity?

USAaber
Guest
USAaber
5 years 5 months ago
I have a somewhat garbled memory of one of the reasons why Saab is never a mainstream and Lagom brand. There was an interview with one of the Saab designers in a paper or magazine (back in Sweden) when the 99 was in production (I believe). He had come up with a color that was never before seen on any other brand of production vehicles. It was a great color – like a nuance of purple, and he stated to the paper something along the line of …” you take Chartreuse..” and and assortment of other cordials and liqueurs (forget… Read more »
Patrik B
Guest
Patrik B
5 years 5 months ago

It is quite interesting that lagom translates to moderate which translated back turns into måttlig.

So everything we do in Sweden needs to be moderate unless you want to be looked down on by the community.

TTAero
Guest
TTAero
5 years 5 months ago

Great writing Tompa!
This lagom stuff can be discussed forever, and there will turn up new tvist to it all the time.

For exampel: If saab wasn’t made with “the lagom” hanging over the designers, it would become a bimmer or the like. The lagom thing actually made the design good, but not avarage! It made the design different intead of vulgar, it made it good looking intead of “blingfull” and it made it the best over all instead of beeing best i one it two things.

Jörgen Trued - SUHRT
Guest
Jörgen Trued - SUHRT
5 years 5 months ago
I challenge the whole LAGOM discussion. That was “invented” long time ago when the pitcher of beer was passed around the dinner table. Each guest was just allowed to drink “so much” so the last person would get his/her fair share of fluid. — Now Sweden has transformed into an individualistic society far from the founding fathers of Social-liberalism and The Myrdals Couples utopia in 1950 ies. — Swedes are nowadays bold and take their share of the cake. Impatience and makes anything just to be on the top or come out as a winner. We have road-rage on our… Read more »
david.baxter
Guest
david.baxter
5 years 5 months ago

I am happy that the times of Jante-law are still gone. And its good so. I stand up for free and independent people, with their own minds and the possiblilty to talk open about problems and things. The good intention behind these laws has often turn into bad things. Frozen people looking only at other people and closed -minded. I think we have seen the extrem by burning “witches” in the Middle Age. A good movie about these thing I like to share:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_White_Ribbon

Lars Jorge
Guest
Lars Jorge
5 years 5 months ago
In order to buy and be an owner of a SAAB you should have the following properties: Be an individualist – dare to show that you are special Have a good education Love to drive a car not just go from A to B Smile to car articles that is said to be objective when testing cars Laugh to people that do television program like Top Gear Think that Audi, BMW and Mercedes are good cars, but that you do not want to own one because they are produced in millions and therefore not show up to your demands for… Read more »
Tomas TL1000R
Guest
Tomas TL1000R
5 years 5 months ago

+1 well spoken Lars Jorge!

Ingvar
Guest
Ingvar
5 years 5 months ago

Some people mean that “lagom” is old viking behavier when drinking.
“Skål” = means “All around the table”= ” Lagom”.
I do not know if that explanation is accepted .

Barbapappa
Guest
Barbapappa
5 years 5 months ago

It is a myth. The word lagom is an old dative form of lag (law) which translates to roughly “lawfully”.

Smithy
Guest
5 years 5 months ago

@Barbapappa; Nothing good comes out of the Jante-Law, it’s simply a concept that crushes dreams and puts growth in a perspective of violation.

Barbapappa
Guest
Barbapappa
5 years 5 months ago

The Jante-Law has in-directly paved the way for Sweden having among the highest “innovations per capita” in the world.

Barbapappa
Guest
Barbapappa
5 years 5 months ago

Sorry, this was meant as a reply to Smithy.

Martin N
Guest
Martin N
5 years 5 months ago

Actually, the “lagom” concept and the “Jante law” exist in many countries and languages. The Jante law is actually Norwegian/Danish and describes a quite universal small-town where everyone keeps an eye on everyone.

But one thing that is typically Swedish is to say that something that isn’t typically Swedish is typically Swedish. We are a very self centered people who just love to describe ourselves. Like so many other peoples 🙂

For me, Saab is very lagom. It has been too lagom for many many years, and I hope that is changing now.

Barbapappa
Guest
Barbapappa
5 years 5 months ago

My believes also, except that I hope SAAB will still keep being lagom in the future.

Smithy
Guest
5 years 5 months ago

@Barbapappa
Have you read these definitions of the “Jante-law”?
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jante_Law

I don’t see how just that, either directly or indirectly, results in innovation.
It’s not a good way of thinking, I tell you that.

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