‘Fluffy Towels’

I hate management-speak, always have. You know the type – “blue-sky thinking’, ‘out of the box’, ‘maximising synergy’ and all those other brain-fucking phrases that carry so much weight in the boardroom yet mean less than fuck all. Well it’s time to strike back at them. My friends and I have come up with a new phrase which we hope will manage to infiltrate the highest echelons of management around the globe and will, in time, be revealed as a Sokal-esque hoax. The best way to explain it is through its origin story – here goes…

Last night Gaz, Paige and I played host to their Kiwi pals, Chris and Bex, as our original plans to attend a birthday party had been scuppered by said birthday boy being stranded in the wilds of Scotland. Gaz and Chris had a few rounds of Mario Kart on the Wii, leaving the girls to catch up on a week’s worth of work-related gossip, mostly relating to Bex’s new job at the Edinburgh Leisure group  of gyms.

Now by this point gaz was already several ciders in and immersed in Mario Kart so wasn’t exactly paying best attention to the conversation, especially the context thereof. Hence when he overheard Bex saying “all those other flashy gyms have is fancy equipment and fluffy towels”, Gaz had to throw his two cents. Here’s more or less what unfolded:

Gaz: “Fluffy towels? How the hell can you relate that to business?”
Bex: “What?”
Gaz: “Fluffy towels. What does thsat even mean in a management context?”
Bex: “It means fluffy towels…”
Gaz: “But what does fluffy towels mean in relation to HR and payroll stuff? Isn’t that what you’re talking about?”
Paige: “Gaz, it means ‘fluffy towels’. We’re talking about what the private gyms have to offer compared to Edinburgh Leisure”
Gaz (sheepishly): “Aah… I thought you were talking about the business side of things and that ‘fluffy towels’ was some new buzzword so I got on my high horse…”
Cue much laughter and mockery

This was too much to let lie so we decided to start a secret campaign. ‘Fluffy towels’ is THE new buzzword and we will consider our campaign a victory if, at any meeting any of us attends, the word is used in all seriousness by a person with whom none of us have had any contact. The business world shall, aat that precise moment, collapse under the weight of its own ridiculousness and goodness and decency shall prevail. We think.

We can’t just charge on into this though, the phrase must have some kind of definition if it’s going to survive in the cut-throat ecology of the buzzword. Here are three we came up with.

1. Positive definition. A quick-fix solution that can be applied to a problem in order to temporarily relieve pressure from clients or colleagues further up the chain. E.g. “Client  X are pissed that the project’s go-live date has been pushed back a week, do we have any fluffy towels we can chuck them?”

2. Negative definition. Useless ideas that sound elaborate and well-meant but are either poorly thought out, time-wasters or deliberately skirt the issue at hand. E.g. “I came here expecting a serious meeting but all I see is a pile of fluffy towels.”

3. Casual use. Amiable yet derogatory term for a mistake or faux-pas. E.g. “You asked her to go to a Nightmare On Elm Street Septuple-bill for a first date? Man, that was some serious fluffy towel thinking”

So there you go. We’ve done the initial groundwork but now the real slog begins. Please start using this at every opportunity, whether it’s in a meeting, on the phone, in the pub, on email, whatever. Spread it to as many people as you can but try to make sure that you stick as closely to the definitions above as you can so we avoid an international game of Chinese whispers being played  out in the highest halls of power (if we ended up deeper in recession due to a mis-use of fluffy towels I’d never forgive myself). If you should hear others using the phrase then report back to me and give yourself a gold star. Happy hijinks y’all!

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