Great ideas: Put them on Paper, Save them for Later

by Tim Sackett | Posted | Culture

Great ideas: Put them on Paper, Save them for Later

When I worked in HR at Applebee’s, I had some brilliant ideas! The first idea I had was early on in my time with them. In most casual dining chains, you have a 70/30 mix of female to male employees. On the leadership side it flip flops to 70% of males being leaders and only 30% of females being leaders.

My idea was to invite 100 of our best female employees – servers, cooks, bartenders, managers, etc. – to a quarterly leadership forum. If you are a female, and you are awesome, you are invited. Our intent was to change the number of female leaders we had to reflect our actual employee demographic. It worked brilliantly. We were able to “grow” more female leaders.

My next idea was more operational in focus. We needed to increase our gift card sales around the holidays, and it was my idea to go out and buy those stupid, cheap yard signs you see all over the place. Now, this was about nine years ago, before these stupid signs were all over the place! They worked brilliantly, and our gift card sales rose by $200K, which was more than double our previous profits, with an investment of only $500 in signs. HR has this, ops, you guys can take the day off!

Now I’m feeling cocky!

Not all ideas are great ideas

My next idea was Cup of Joe ToGo. The idea being, hey, millions of idiots pay $5 bucks to get a Starbucks coffee on the way back to the office from lunch. Let’s buy some nice ToGo cups of our own, and sell our customers a coffee on their way out for $1. Incremental sales! Higher guest check average! You guys better watch out, I’m just getting started!

Cup of Joe ToGo got me laughed out of a meeting.

In fact, Cup of Joe ToGo became a poster-child of why HR should never be allowed into operations and marketing meetings in Applebee’s! It was a silly idea. It didn’t match our brand strategy, or core menu offerings. It was some HR guy’s bad idea on having a lemonade stand.

Got an idea? Write it down!

Cup of Joe ToGo taught me something very valuable. Not all ideas should be shared. All ideas should have their time. I learned that I should write them down, and then save them for later.

So I started writing down all of my crazy ideas when I came up with them. I would then let them marinate for a day or a week. I would come back and read them. Wow!

I couldn’t believe how good something sounded coming out of my mouth, and how bad it sounded just a week later!

In HR, we constantly have ideas: Things we want to try; and things we want to do. We see things in our organization every single day that need fixing, and we believe we have an idea on how to fix these things.

I encourage you to write down all of these ideas. There will be some brilliance in your writings. There will also be some Cup of Joe’s ToGo! Writing your ideas down gives you a second chance to read them and whether the idea is truly great, or just an idea that is probably best not shared.

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