Monthly Archives: August 2014

Mise-en-place

Better known as MEEZ to those in the know, it is a French phrase that means to gather and arrange the ingredients and tools needed to prepare a meal. It helps a chef define the scope and coordinate all required labor and material.  The cooking metaphor is of a very clean kitchen: clean knives, cutting board, clear work space, all spices and cooking implements positioned in a precise pattern for immediate access at the right time.

It forms a practice of self-discipline for daily work with a clear mind and a defined and rigorous approach at the start of each day. It involves studying a plan, workshop, presentation, meeting, sprint, or work package, thinking through the resources, tools, time, sequence, and processes needed, and assembling and readying all the components before launch. It is the planning moment when PM’s evaluate the totality of what the team is trying to achieve and create a feasible plan for the work ahead.

Practitioners who grasp the concept are able to keep many tasks in mind simultaneously, weighing and assigning each its proper priority and schedule precedence. This assures that the PM or SME has anticipated and prepared for every situation that could logically occur during a Sprint or other work activity. A chef best practice of Mise-en-place is to envision perfect execution before starting the actual meal preparation. PM examples could include breakdown by WBS work package or Sprint; if you can visualize perfect execution, you have reached the right level of detail for the WP or Sprint. Checklists created and memorized to capture the best model and ensure future value is realized.

  • Make fewer mistakes
  • MEEZ habits enable greater focus of attention when needed
  • Good risk management technique as it limits the possibility that something may be missing when needed.
  • Reduce individual and team stress
  • Deeper understanding of what needs to go right to achieve success
  • Keep things orderly and in place for everyone leading to reduced need for repeat questions and faster on-boarding of new team members
  • Planning process to cut out waste and surface an appropriate structure
  • Consistent excellence with daily activities that support strategic work

 What kinds of endeavors might benefit from Mise-en-place?

  • Team work in a single room where being prepared and having everything tightly organized is essential to sustain productivity of every member
  • Project design-criteria and check list for evaluation and critique
  • Staging a sprint-how to make the conditions perfect?
  • Facilitated workshops
  • Limited WIP models
  • Specific planning processes (sales process design/sprint)
  • Short cycle exercise to develop something new and ready for test (learning) in a highly time constrained window.
  • Swarm models
  • Encoding the use of specific tools in a consistent fashion
  • Short dynamic activities by small groups-preparation “packet” in advance
  • Preparing for a meeting, presentation, phone call, workshop, conference, delivery