After graduating from college and traveling around Europe for a year, I accepted a position as a cook in a quaint Vermont country inn. As I contemplated a career as a chef or restaurant manager, the guests of the inn encouraged me to enroll at the Restaurant School in Philadelphia, PA. As I think back on my time there, I can still vividly hear my chef instructor shouting, “Mise en place, mise en place, mise en place!” every time he walked into the kitchen to monitor our assignments.
Mise en place (pronounced miz on plas) is a French phrase that literally means “everything in its place.” The phrase, used in professional kitchens everywhere, refers to organizing and arranging all of the ingredients and equipment that a cook will need to prepare a dish.
Flash forward 30 years to my job as a Senior Client Relationship Manager at K12 Insight — and mise en place still resonates. Although I’m not gathering measuring spoons and spices, when there are projects that require me to coordinate multiple tasks I put my chef hat back on (no, not literally) in order to formulate and analyze the most efficient way to complete necessary tasks before actually beginning the work.
This becomes especially important when rolling out a communications strategy for school districts and stakeholders.
When preparing to launch a Voice of the Community Survey for a school district, it’s essential to outline every element of the communications plan so you can seek feedback from community members. K12 Insight provides districts with a full communications suite, including draft press releases, scripts for all-call messages and letters to parents, staff and community-based organizations.
Because everyone has a voice that deserves to be heard, we work closely with the district’s communications team to make sure everyone in the community knows they have a role in shaping collaborative decisions. We use common tools such as local/regional media, the district website, posters, social media, and local homeowners associations and community-based organizations to publicize this information.
Though I didn’t become a professional chef, the idea of mise en place has served me well in my chosen profession.
With so many cooks in the kitchen, and so many ingredients in my communications plan, mise en place ensures there’s a smaller chance that I’ll leave out the one ingredient that’s essential for a great dish — your voice.