How (and Why) to Mise en Place Your First-Time Guest Workstation (part one)
Disclaimer #1: this post is only for the super-nerds, the people driven by processes, and the detail-oriented among us. If your happy place is a cluttered junk drawer, just skip it. It’s too much. You’ll die.
Disclaimer #2: the following layout is based off of this post, where I recommended the Husky Mobile Workbench. But even if you didn’t get one of those, the principles can still apply in your situation. Modify to your heart’s content.
Several years ago my friend Bob Adams turned me on to the concept of mise en place, a French term used by chefs that means “everything in its place.” The gist is that a good, prepared, productive chef will have all ingredients chopped, prepared, and portioned before they begin the cooking process. This helps them to focus on the art in front of them, rather than stopping to dice, to search, to measure.
(For what it’s worth, that’s always been my preferred method of cooking, and it drives my wife up the wall because I dirty up roughly 412 dishes in the process. I was just happy to know that there’s a term for it – and a fancy French one, at that! – to vindicate me. Oui oui.)
I digress. There is something to be said for mise en place when it comes to (a) preparing our volunteers to (b) serve our guests. And perhaps nowhere is this more obvious than the way we set up our first-time guest workstation for the benefit of both of those groups of people.
At all of our campuses, we have rolled out (pun intended) the Husky Mobile Workbench. It allows everything to live on-board. No more scouring the storage closets or searching in road cases: the Husky holds everything we’ll need to engage with a first-time guest.
But the setup only works if we set up our teams for success. So we carefully stage these workbenches before they are ready for public display:
- The top drawer holds a basic set of office supplies, inviter cards to our Explore the Summit event, backup paper info cards in case the wifi goes down and we can’t use iPads, and ink pens for the same reason.
- The middle drawers hold sets of mostly premade first-time guest bags, meaning they have our two informational pieces already stuffed in them, and all that has to be added is the gift tumbler.
- The bottom drawers hold basic cleaning supplies (people are nasty), an open space for volunteers’ personal items, and a spot for those aforementioned tumblers.
- Oh, and everything is labeled and there’s a super micromanaging control freak laminated sheet that lives in the top drawer, with pictures to explain where everything goes. Here’s a peek:
Why in the world would we go through all of this trouble to stage these carts for our volunteers? Aren’t we running the risk of over-managing the process? That’s a great question, and one I’ll answer in an upcoming post.