A CIO Top Ten Guide to Preparing a Thanksgiving Feast

Thanksgiving Turkey I like to cook and I really look forward to the Thanksgiving Holiday. For the past thirteen years, I've enjoyed locking myself in the kitchen and perfecting the Thanksgiving feast largely from scratch everything from home made cranberry sauce to my evolving sweet potato pie/casserole recipes.

But this year we're going to family and I already miss the prep work that I always start the weekend before. So, without a feast to prepare, I will use this holiday to share some of my words of wisdom on preparing a successful Thanksgiving dinner

... with a twist ... This is from a CIO's viewpoint. It turns out that many of the disciplines needed to run a high performing, innovative IT team have parallels to planning a Thanksgiving dinner. Don't believe me? Here are my key tips to aspiring IT Leaders running the Thanksgiving Feast - 

  1. Plan ahead - You'll be sorry if you visit the grocery Sunday afternoon or Wednesday morning when the crowds are fighting over everything from parking spots to aisle space and the lines at check out look like Thursday's traffic. Go Sunday morning, Tuesday, or really early on Wednesday.

  2. Follow the Data Scientist - You can follow any turkey recipe you want, but I go with the one perfected by kitchen scientist Alton Brown. His Good East Roast Turkey recipe includes a brine that is worth the effort and has the perfect technique for a tasty, moist turkey.

  3. Conserve Key Resources - I pop the turkey in early in the morning. For a 2pm dinner and about three hours of cooking required for a 15lb bird, get your turkey in no later than 9am. Why? Because your oven is your critical path resource. Once you get the bird out, you'll have at least two hours of free oven space to make all your sides. Cover the turkey with foil and it will retain sufficient heat for serving later. 

  4. Build a firewall - Sorry, but I don't like visitors in the kitchen while cooking. It's both dangerous and distracting. Find a clever way to block off the kitchen or ....

  5. Hire helpers - ... get some help on tasks that are outside of the kitchen. Set the table, hang decorations or plan activities for the kids. 

  6. Architect your products - optimizing around really good ingredients such as fresh herbs, organic meats and local vegetables.

  7. Demo early - Most of my innovation during this holiday is with the appetizers. Demo early and fail early if you have to, but this is the best part of the meal to be creative.

  8. Please your customers - My family devours my sweet potato recette de l'annĂ©e - sometimes a pie, or a casserole, or just mashed - but I overload it with crowd pleasing ingredients including butter, maple syrup, brown sugar, ginger and almonds. My related warning is don't over engineer this or other recipes with over the top ingredients like marshmallows. 

  9. Outsource what you can't do well - There are some parts of the meal that are just not worth undertaking on your own. Unless you are a pastry chef or very skilled and practiced at desert, you're most likely better off outsourcing it to the local bakery or to family members that insist on contributing.

  10. Celebrate the wins - Have your beverage of choice with you behind the firewall. Practice your plating and photo your best work. Prepare your menu so that you can walk the floor and enjoy the time with your family.  
Happy Holidays!


  1. Awesome. :-)

    Love Alton Brown and most heartily agree with having a beverage on hand behind the firewall!

  2. Very Interesting... Thanks for sharing!


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About Isaac Sacolick

Isaac Sacolick is President of StarCIO, a technology leadership company that guides organizations on building digital transformation core competencies. He is the author of Digital Trailblazer and the Amazon bestseller Driving Digital and speaks about agile planning, devops, data science, product management, and other digital transformation best practices. Sacolick is a recognized top social CIO, a digital transformation influencer, and has over 900 articles published at InfoWorld, CIO.com, his blog Social, Agile, and Transformation, and other sites. You can find him sharing new insights @NYIke on Twitter, his Driving Digital Standup YouTube channel, or during the Coffee with Digital Trailblazers.