Car Factory or Fine Restaurant Kitchen: Choose Your Model

A short piece on NPR on 11 August 2014 presented mise-en-place, the organizing method used by many chefs (French translation:  “putting in place”).  Rooted in George-Auguste Escoffier’s 19-th century culinary practice, mise-en-place guides practitioners as they combine labor and ingredients to respond consistently and efficiently in a dynamic service environment.

As NPR summarizes, “…mise-en-place says that time is precious. Resources are precious. Space is precious. Your self-respect and the respect of others are precious. Use them wisely.”

The piece quotes Andres Soltner, dean of the International Culinary Center in New York City: “A chef, because of mise-en-place, he’s always on time. If I go to the doctor, and if he’s not ready, I leave.  And that’s because of mise-en-place.”

Soltner’s doctor example points to the challenges in healthcare to respond consistently and efficiently in a dynamic service environment—which some providers and executives have already figured out.

The basic organizing principles of mise-en-place are the same as “5S”, translated from Japanese into English as Organization, Orderliness, Cleanliness, Standardized Clean-up and Discipline (link to Wikipedia article.)  5S is one of the core methodologies in the Toyota Production System or its Lean adaptations.

An idea:  if you seek to engage colleagues in better ways to organize health care practice, try the image of chefs in a high-end restaurant kitchen who practice mise-en-place to get your points across.  While the basic ideas are the same as those in Lean, your team may relate more to the story of a kitchen than an auto factory.   Chacun à son gout!


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