Instagram's change in terms on photo ownership is a recent example. Site usage is reported to have quickly fallen 25% after the announcement. Surely they thought they had tested it—somehow or other. A social media setting doesn't just accelerate customer reactions, it can exponentiate them virally, brutally. Welcome to Twitter.
The purpose of testing is not to see if something works, it's to figure out how to make it work best—as quickly as possible—while minimizing the cost, risk and delay from any failure. Your plan for 2013 is sound only if every business initiative is expressed contingently rather than unconditionally, with criteria and target dates for resolution of uncertainties and identified fallback steps and alternative reallocation of resources. Expose these plans to a fresh look explicitly aimed at threshing out the chaff, rather than on co-opting one more sign-off. Aim to eliminate half the initiatives, leaving room for more timely opportunities.
Andrew Kahr is a principal in Credit Builders LLC, a financial product development company, and was the founding chief executive of First Deposit, later known as Providian.