‘Mise En Place’ for Proposal Management Professionals

Dishing up Techniques with a Flavor for Organization

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When the heat is turned up high, leverage tools from seasoned chefs to organize and plan for success. Through the concept of “mise en place,” professionally trained chefs prepare kitchen stations for the beginning of service. The term has French origins, translated to “putting in place.” Professional chefs prepare their workstations based upon the items required (utensils or ingredients) to facilitate ease of use throughout service.

Mise en place can be applied to areas beyond the kitchen to help organize and structure competing personal and professional objectives, as the office is temporarily shifted to the home. Using basic mise en place steps to prepare, arrange and set up for the day, proposal management and other professionals can still deliver five-star service with ease, even during the most challenging circumstances.

The Origins of Mise en Place

Georges-Auguste Escoffier was a pioneer in French cuisine during late the 18th and early 19th centuries. Escoffier was thought to have codified the concept of mise en place. He instilled order in a chaotic culinary world by leveraging military-inspired organization in both preparation and standards.

Escoffier believed that in order to master cuisine, the foundations of order and organization must be established. Beyond physical organization, he also focused on mental preparation and dedicated time to relax the mind before service. To this day, you will find that chefs conduct a pre-shift meeting to boost morale and layout a blueprint for execution.

Modern-Day Application

If we build on the concepts that originated in Escoffier’s time and apply them to our work as proposal professionals, we can prepare ourselves for five-star delivery. Business professionals are responsible for daily tasks to prepare proposals, complete projects, respond to inquiries and engage in team-based activities. If we identify the steps to prepare for these tasks, like a chef does, we can find the mise en place to drive success. Administrative tasks may mask inefficiencies. By routinizing procedures, errors will be less likely to occur and time gains will naturally surface. Setting aside time before the day starts to relax and prepare for activities, and again at the end of the day to regroup and clean up, we will follow in the footsteps of Escoffier.

Stop and think about the recurring steps involved in the daily activities that enable you to perform your work, both within and outside the confines of your professional career, your mise en place.

Write Your Recipe for Success

For proposals or business activities, think about the consistencies for every project and determine:

  • How do you mentally prepare for each day, project, proposal or assignment?
  • What is your most complex daily workflow and where can you simplify it?
  • What is your process for content management to access highly used materials?
  • Are there emails that can be drafted, stored and saved for future use?
  • What are your physical workstation arrangements? Is your desk cluttered, or functional and orderly?

The goal is to spend the most time where attention to detail is needed. Slow the pace to fully digest the task at hand, thus speeding up the pathway to excellence. If a chef inadvertently presents one dish with the wrong entrée, the quality of the entire banquet is at risk. Under the guidance of Escoffier, chefs go through painstaking efforts to develop methodical practices to ensure accuracy. They clean as they go during preparation through completion, as disorder is the chef’s enemy. If Escoffier were here now, he would urge us to simplify our processes and actions to improve our lives.

At the end of each day, ask yourself, what can I do now to make tomorrow easier? Beyond that, what can I do this week to prepare for next week? We may possess the greatest tools, resources, certifications and degrees, but if we do not drill down to the basics, to prioritize our focus, these advantages will be fruitless. Use your answers to the questions above to develop a personalized recipe for success, at work and beyond.

Amanda Rhodes has more than 15 years of experience managing commercial, public sector and federal proposals. With a background in experimental social psychology, Rhodes brings a unique perspective to a wide array of industry trends and topics. She has spent the last seven-plus years at Gartner and is currently a proposal manager within the global consulting proposals team. Rhodes is based in Fort Myers, Florida, and can be reached at amanda.rhodes@gartner.com.

Join the Conversation

  1. Isabel Moritz

    Love the article Amanda – and as a contractor I’ve noticed that where bid managers follow a mise on place philosophy, more or less, that people are happier in their work and there is good collaboration in the team.
    There are, however, always those who don’t sign up…

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