Making sure your technology is “mise en place”

Tim O'Connell | 01.25.13
Topics: Everything Else

Last week, we sponsored and served dinner – 149 meals, to be precise – at Shepherd’s Table. We have a great appreciation for food, whether preparing meals with our clients or ensuring that others don’t go hungry. We embrace food preparation as way to contribute to and engage our community. It seems only logical to be able to connect what we do as technology professionals to our appreciation of the culinary.


DelCor staff prep for dinner service at Shepherd’s Table

The French idiom mise en place is used widely in professional kitchens. Literally translated as “put in place,” the English equivalent is “a place for everything and everything in its place.”

If you have any professional culinary experience or are a committed foodie, you’ve probably heard it. If you’ve  been to a restaurant with an exposed “show” kitchen, you may have noticed how each staff member is able to stay in their workstation, focusing on the tasks directly at hand. That is mise en place. They have the right tools and ingredients – everything they need to do their jobs – within easy reach.


CulinAerie’s mise en place at Cooking with DelCor

That concept translates rather well to technology management. Network integrity, security, up time, connectivity, and hardware maintenance are critical functions of IT that cannot be compromised. Ultimately, though, what we in IT need to provide users is their mise en place.

From any user’s workstation – whether that’s a PC, laptop, tablet, or mobile phone – the right tools for that user to do their job need to be within easy reach.

The obvious analogy here is the selection of applications and access to data. Equally important, though, is training.

Just as you would not expect a chef or restarauteur to completely change the menu and hand it to the kitchen staff, telling them, “Start making this tonight,” we shouldn’t expect users to instinctively adapt to a new application or upgrade that we’ve installed. Training is an integral part of what we need to provide to users. Any device, gadget, gizmo, or tool we give them remains out of reach if they don’t know how to use it – making that unused investment worthless.

Next time you find yourself preparing something new or complicated in your kitchen, give some thought to how your initial setup either helped you or got in your way. If you find yourself watching a Food Network show, take notice of the way the chef has their ingredients, utensils, and cookware exactly as they need it. Technology consultants, IT staff, and end users should expect no less in our computer environments.

Now if we could just find our technological equivalent of I have one in the oven that should just now be ready…

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