Thought Starters

What does a sandwich have to do with a properly executed idea?

What’s your favourite type of sandwich?

Hoagie? Open face? Triple decker? A submarine? An Oreo? Hmmmm?

A while ago I wrote a bit about the PB+J sandwich (my personal favourite) and the abhorrence of spreading the peanut butter too thin. The analogy was to entice you to think about if we take too much on (work, responsibility, excesses) how we are left not being as effective at a single thing anymore.

If you are interested in that topic click here and off you go.

If you are still here, well, as the title suggests, the subject of the sandwich remains. The other morning my wife had an early appointment so I was left to my own devices to make my own breakfast. Now, I am not the typical guy (or maybe I am) because I can cook for myself and on this particular morning I was feeling pretty ambitious. Fuelled by a coffee and a hunger driven from a particularly eventful evening I set out to make a killer breakfast sandwich.

Not just any sandwich, my friends.

This one was going to be a monster. I was THAT hungry. So, off I went; a couple of slices of 12 grain bread, a couple of fried eggs (yes, a couple), some Swiss cheese, mayo, lettuce and fresh tomatoes. It might not sound like a good combo but it really worked.

From a taste perspective.

The thing was piled high, the tomatoes were super juicy, the eggs we as slippery as a used car salesman, the Swiss melted like a bride on her wedding night, the lettuce as crisp as a freshly made bed and the bread, as much as I love it, worked like a charm to hold it all together up until the first bite. House of cards, the whole lot.

The thing tasted like heaven but it was a Gong Show.

A hot mess, so to speak.

The tomatoes squished out ones side, the eggs gooped all over my fingers (I love it when the yolks are a bit soft), the lettuce acted like a skating rink and shot the eggs out the other side. The fresh un-toasted bread, like a straw house in a windstorm, started to disintegrate from all the moisture.

What the heck happened?

Great idea. Great flavour combination. The right amount of salt & pepper. Not too much mayo. Fresh damn bread. It was a match made in heaven.

Were two eggs too many? Should they have been cooked more?

Did I have the wrong bread? Maybe a focaccia would have been a better choice. Or not.

I loved the tomatoes but because they were placed between the lettuce and the eggs there was nothing to hold them in place and boy were they ripe.

I thought the cheese would bind it all together but just like a cheese it decided to taste good but otherwise, in its melted state, was all it was willing to give. No more help there.

Just like any great idea without a great plan to execute it the whole thing went to pot.

  • The seed was planted.
  • The ingredients were there. Solid!
  • All tasty, fresh and natural.

Unfortunately it was poorly planned and while it looked great in its pristine state, in actual fact, the whole thing was rife with poorly chosen ingredients. Sure the taste was there but the structure and the execution left me with something that just didn’t work.

No John Hannibal Smith time here!

Now the question is:

“Is the idea more important that the plan and execution or are the reliant on each other?”

Well, based on my sandwich making abilities this past Saturday I would think it’s a mucho combo platter. A great idea is just that and a great plan to carry out that idea is essential to [ek-si-kyoo-shuhn]

  • To carry out.
  • To perform or do.
  • To perform in accordance with a design or plan.

What’s an idea {chicken} without a good plan {egg}?

  • There is no need to plan without an idea.
  • And if you don’t plan then there is no way to execute. It’s just an idea then.


So, the next time a sandwich {project} needs to be made {planned} the ingredients {ideas} need to be properly selected {communicated}. The symbiotic relationship between the ingredients {ideas} and the bread {plan} will prove {create} successful {a properly executed project}.

Every day our jobs test us no matter what we may do.

We are all busier than ever. We have to generate ideas about how to help people or solve a problem and we sometimes fly by the seat of our pants. Sure we always seem to get across the goal line but what does that cost us? Messy hands, stained shirt and a big toothy grin later our stomachs are full but we now have more work ahead of us than we originally planned or intended. If we had only thought about those combinations {ideas} a little before we started cooking {executing} them then the outcome {result} may have been different. The taste {product} could still be true to the intent {idea} but it would have not generated the extra work required to clean up {correct} the mess {unnecessary errors} that ensued.

That’s what I remembered after making that sandwich.

It still tasted good though.

  • What is the best sandwich combination you have ever made?
  • And why was it so good?


About this Author: Ralph Dopping (199 Posts)

A quirky sense-o-humour coupled with an indelible sense of stylish sarcasm makes it difficult to take the world too seriously doesn't it? My faves: fun, passion and hard work. I work here everyday:


Well I am with @KDillabough here- vegetarian, actually vegan, for me please! Excellent analogy. This brings another colloquialism to mind- a camel is a horse designed by committee. I find that sometimes too many different idea ingredients get added to a particular project sandwich, which prevents me from tasting any of the flavours, plus it makes the bread all soggy. I think it is just as important to limit the variety in one particular feast and hold back some of the yummys for another day. 

Craig McBreen
Craig McBreen

Hi Ralph,


Shouldn't you be golfing right about now?


"The eggs were as slippery as a used car salesman, the Swiss melted like a bride on her wedding night,"

--Bravo, old man ;) Nice word play.


Ever hear of the Michael Phelps sandwich? … (cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, fried onions and mayonnaise) Made a few myself and loved 'em, but this is what he ate for breakfast while in training:


3 fried egg sandwiches, with cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, fried onions and mayonnaise, followed by three chocolate-chip pancakes; a five-egg omelette; three sugar-coated slices of French toast and a bowl of grits (a maize-based porridge), washed down with two cups of coffee.


I digress, but your sandwich experiment made me think of this. Anyway, nice analogy, but a bad time to read it. It's 2:00 pm here, I'm still in the office with no food and no money :( Now I'm really hungry ;)


Well your first experiment sounds good enough that I just might have to try and make one for myself.  Mmm...eggs, bread and cheese. Scrumptious.   I'll let you know if I'm able to execute the idea with any less mess.  But then, that's a mess I might enjoy! 


Good layout of the idea to completion phases Ralph.  Too many times we just think of the idea and go with it. While that's helpful sometimes, most often, we could benefit from following the formula you laid out.



I really have nothing to say other than, wow. What a storyteller! (PB&J is my favorite, too)


Nice analogy Ralph, and I'm glad the sandwich tasted good. I'll go for anything with hummus, roasted peppers/veggies on foccacia, panini style any day. Cheers! Kaarina

rdopping moderator

Thanks @RebeccaTodd Too funny. When I wrote that bit I was wondering how it would come off in the comments. The funny thing is that I kind of got what I expected. A buch of comments about sandwiches. People to respond to what you ask.


I like your take on it. Agreed, sometimes saving some of those yummy bit for another day is the right thing to do. Thanks for coming by and offering your culinary insights.

rdopping moderator

 @Craig McBreen When you read this I should be teeing off (that's if you get back here on Saturday). Thanks for the Phelps. Must try it. I am sure you got yourself something to satisfy your appetite.  Thanks for stopping by. It is always nice to hear from you around these parts. Have a fab weekend.

rdopping moderator

 @Frank_Strong Thanks for dropping by. Nice to make your acquaintance. It is a nice mess indeed. Hey, that seems kind of Laurel and Hardy (it's a fine mess you've gotten me into....or something like that). Anyway, I look forward to exchanging many more ideas, food related or not. Enjoy your weekend.

rdopping moderator

 @TheThinkingLdr Thanks for your comment. Agreed, it was simply meant to highlight the need to ensure execution is considered as an essential part of the idea and that as we plan through execution an understanding that the idea might evolve or change when the relationship of the sum of it's parts are considered as a whole.

rdopping moderator

 @ginidietrich That's nice. Thank you. Hey, like you said, it's a playground to try out things until they work. Thanks for dropping in and for your compliment.

rdopping moderator

 @KDillabough Thanks Kaarina. Yeah, I see. You are more of a vegetarian on the sandwich front. Thanks for popping in and leaving you order, ha!