Mise en place — the art of being prepared
Written by Sarah Ritchie
“All great cooks… know that the secret to success is something called mise en place… [which is] a universal concept focusing on the idea of readiness. When chefs walk into a kitchen, they don’t just start cooking, they first assess the situation and make sure they will have everything they need for their entire shift. Why? Because in cooking, taking minutes or even seconds to go chasing after something you need can be the difference between a perfectly executed dish and total garbage.” (Elliot Bell, themuse.com)
Have you ever turned up for a meeting where you felt ill-prepared? Perhaps you hadn’t quite completed all the work required; or were doing a presentation, but hadn’t rehearsed? How did that make you feel? Stressed? Nervous? Embarrassed?
It’s easy in our hyper-busy agency environment to leave things to the last minute, thinking we can make things up as we go if we have to. At times you’ll be fortunate and get away with under-preparing, and at other times it will come back to bite you.
Even if you are a last-minute wonder, it always pays to set aside enough time to prepare yourself. This could include planning for:
- Your day ahead: being familiar with your to-do list and prioritising your tasks and jobs.
- Your week ahead: eyeballing your calendar to being aware of meetings, pressure-points, holidays and events.
- Your year ahead: setting your goals and ensuring that you are on the right track.
- Campaigns, projects and events: knowing your timelines and milestones and how you will get the work out the door.
- Meetings: knowing who you are meeting with and why, and having all information ready.
The more prepared you are, the more in-control you will feel, and the more you will come across to your colleagues and clients as professional, confident, efficient, authoritative and knowledgeable.
If you are prepared and confident, your projects are more likely to run smoothly. The more prepared you are, the better will be your chance for success. Your clients will be more likely to have a positive experience working with you, recommend you and your agency to others, and be happy to work with you again (valuable repeat business).
Being prepared takes no great skill and there is no training required, but it does require you to care about your job. Anyone can do it, but if you do it well you will be noticeably more impressive than those who do not; and your clients and agency will thank you for it.
Sarah Ritchie has been in the design and agency world for 25 years. Originally a graphic designer, Sarah has also worked as a design teacher, agency account manager, and now enjoys a wonderful life in recruitment for agencies. Sarah is also the Founder of AM-Insider — a website full of tips, tricks and resources to build account management superstars!
Image courtesy of Glenn Carstens-Peters www.unsplash.com