The Law of Jante

Published 19/4, 2016 at 09:30

Dear Readers
“All of us are born like originals but many of us die like copies”. I saw this quote in a shop some time ago. I think it is true really. When we are young we are genuine and not at all effected by what people might think or say about us. We are not afraid to stand up for our ideas and what we believe in, of course in a child’s manner. But the older we grow the more we think about what we do, how we think and what we say. I am Swedish and in this country I believe we are even more afraid of sticking out. Because that is what originality is about, to not be afraid of sticking out and to do things in unorthodox way.

Here in Sweden we have something called the Law of Jante. Actually we have this unwritten law all over Scandinavia, but the Swedes are probably the best to obey it. The Law of Jante is a sociological term to negatively describe a condescending attitude towards individuality and success, the term refers to a mentality that de-emphasises individual effort and places all emphasis on the collective, while discouraging those who stand out as achievers. So, no sticking out here. And actually this law is still very much in the mind of Swedes, even nowadays. This law puts a lid on all attempts to develop our originality. If we are all copies that is the best way of following the Law of Jante.

Luckily the Law of Jante does not apply for all in Scandinavia. If that were a fact we never would have had so many successful developers of equipment for concrete sawing and drilling, demolition, concrete floor grinding, dust extraction and air cleaning and hydrodemolition and of course SSAB, SKF, Volvo, Scania and IKEA to mention a few.

The founder of IKEA, Ingvar Kamprad is a good example of someone who chose originality instead of becoming a copy. When Kamprad came up with the idea in 1943 to develop furniture as kits and customers had to assemble the furniture themselves many were critical if the idea would work. But that was then. Now IKEA has around 320 stores in 27 countries, about 140,000 employees and a turnover or €27.6bn. Kamprad is 90 years old but is still active in his business. He has moved back to his hometown of Älmhult in southern Sweden after many years living in Switzerland. Kamprad is genuine.

In a few weeks our industry will again experience the biggest trade event Bauma held every three years in Munich, Germany. Bauma has been running for 50 years and is the world’s biggest trade show in all categories. Talking about originality and copies, the show is a good example of both. Here visitors will find the latest developments for a number of industry sectors where innovators have gone that extra mile to produce something unique that the industry has not seen before. But you can also find many copies, some good and some bad.

But Bauma has become that genuine industry event where everybody wants to come.

This issue of PDi is one of the biggest we have produced. It is full of news, job reports, company profiles and special features, including a detailed preview of Bauma. PDi Magazine together with our pan-American sister magazine Professional Demolition Americas, will exhibit at Bauma in hall A1, booth 519. Please come and visit.


Jan Hermansson


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