The advantages of being in the weeds  DEC 13 2005

eGullet recently interviewed author Michael Ruhlman and he had this to say about what he liked about working in a professional kitchen:

You can't lie in a kitchen -- that's what I like most about it. You're either ready or you're not, you're either clean or you're a mess. You're either good or you're bad. You can't lie. If you lie, it's obvious. If your food's not ready, then it's not ready. If you're in the weeds, its clear to everybody -- you can't say that you aren't. So I love that aspect of it. I love the immediacy of it, the vitality of it.

I've worked in a number of different places over the years and the ones I ended up liking the least were the places that allowed people (myself included) to hide. Some companies just have way too many people for the amount of available work. Other times, particular employees have a certain status within the organization that allows them to determine their own schedules and projects. Deadlines are often malleable, meaning that work can pushed off. Inexperienced or nontechnical managers might not have a clue how long a task should take a programmer...budgeting 2 weeks for a six-hour task that seems hard buys one a lot of blog-surfing time. Companies with coasting employees are everything a kitchen isn't; they just feel slow, wasteful, lifeless, and eventually they suck the life out of you too.

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