The commercial kitchen sleeping potion
There’s plenty to keep us awake these days but not much to send us off to dreamland. The answer might lie in something called white papers. These are reports that promise the same things your favorite television news program does: Authoritative, complex issues, informative… and certain to help you drift off to sleep.
White papers are frequently put out by organizations that want to offer value to their members. They’re also written by individuals and businesses that want to appear authoritative. The idea is that the more expertise they show, the more eager you will be to hire them to solve the problem you have.
Or don’t have, as the case may be. White papers have also been known to present a problem you don’t have. Kind of like aluminum siding. Following World War II, the United States had a lot of aluminum fabricating plants but no war to crank out aluminum for. Enter aluminum siding and the marketing efforts to convince homeowners they needed to upgrade the appearance of their houses.
Nothing against aluminum siding, of course, but a lot of consumers were talked into it. In some cases, white papers are selling aluminum siding. Commercial Kitchen Ventilation is a 39-page white paper that discusses commercial kitchen ventilation best practices. It’s put together by Foodservice Consultants Society International, an organization for foodservice professionals. The organization exists to advocate for and deliver information to its members. The most FCSI is selling is memberships.
On the other hand (the one holding aluminum siding), white papers put out by for-profit businesses might be less about what you need and more about what they need (more clients). And that’s disappointing. White papers came out of the academic world – professors and researchers who needed to show their bosses what they did on summer vacation. Nobody got hurt. When white papers became a marketing strategy and the term “snake oil salesman” started coming to mind.
There’s plenty of value in white papers (39 pages about commercial kitchen ventilation might be the best sleep aid ever), just make sure you’re not being talked into a problem you don’t have. The goal of reading white papers (other than to fall asleep) is to become more knowledgeable about a topic. If you feel like you’re reading the written version of a pharmaceutical commercial where you’re convinced you have the health issue the medication can fix, then put it down. There are worse things than not falling asleep right away.