This post originally appeared on the Restaurant HR Group blog.

Are you an idea machine? Do your team meetings turn into amazing brainstorming sessions? Do you have a list of ideas just waiting to be executed?

One thing I’ve noticed is that people — and most certainly your employees — tend to have no shortage of wonderful ideas. And if you have hired employees who complement your open company culture, they aren’t intimidated to bring those ideas to the table either.

The problem arises when it’s time to put a plan together and execute an idea. When the rubber meets the road, so to say, many people are unsure of where to begin, end up overwhelmed with the details, and eventually the idea goes by the wayside.

Here are four ways to break that cycle and turn your best ideas into reality.

  1. Focus on the forest and not the trees.  

We tend to spend a lot of time worrying about things that, ultimately, don’t really matter. Hours and hours are spent pouring over miniscule details, running contingency plans for dozens of “what if” scenarios. That’s not to say that details don’t matter and that you shouldn’t have a back-up plan in place. But obsessing over these areas too much can quickly turn into a vicious cycle and lead to problem-focused thinking instead of solution- and action-focused planning. Stay focused on your overall vision by looking for the forest and being a little less neurotic about the trees.

  1. Stop meeting just to meet.

We’re all guilty of this one to some extent. When we have an idea that we’re ready to execute, it’s pretty standard practice to start lining up team meetings — planning, budgetary, status updates, pre-launch, launch meetings, etc. You get the idea.

And before you know it, you and your staff aren’t doing much more than running from meeting to meeting. It’s been estimated that 15 percent of an organization’s collective time is spent in meetings. That’s a lot of precious time, so it’s best to not only keep it to a minimum, but also use it wisely. When you do meet, have a predefined purpose and agenda. By the end of each meeting, write out a simple and clear action plan for everyone to follow. Consider listing a “big idea” on the plan — this is the item that absolutely has to be completed in order to move the project forward to the next stage. Then list out the tasks — keep it to five or less — that will collectively accomplish the big idea.

And whatever you do, keep meetings short. Long meetings suck…in more than one way.

  1. Create deadlines…and stick to them.

You know that action plan I just mentioned? You want to work accountability into that plan too. So each action item notates exactly who is responsible for completing it. You may need to go as far as detailing each expected deliverable too, depending on the scope of the project and how much guidance your team needs. Deadlines should definitely be listed as well, but keep in mind that there will generally be some ebb and flow to those, especially if you’re executing an idea that creeps into unchartered waters. Just don’t be too militant or lax about deadlines though, or you’ll either obliterate the team’s morale or push the project completely off course.  

  1. Don’t wait for perfection.

Perfection is a tough one for many of us to get over. Fear of failure, rejection, being laughed at — all of those fears inevitably shoot to the surface when we dare to step out of our box. But you know what? Perfection isn’t coming. It’s not just around the corner, after a few more details are ironed out. Heck, it’s not even at the end of the road.

Perfection holds many of us back from executing our ideas. It’s an energy-stealer and it’s time to give it the boot. As the brand-builder Denise Lee Yohn said, “A good plan executed today is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”

Stop talking!

It’s time. Time to stop talking, start executing, and get out there and breathe life into those brilliant ideas.



Carrie Luxem is the founder and President of Restaurant HR Group, a full-service HR group based in Chicago, IL. Carrie will be sharing her wisdom from over 15 years in restaurant human resources through guest-posts on the Homebase blog.

Want some HR help? Homebase and Restaurant HR Group have partnered to provide free HR resources for restaurants and retailers. You can find them here.