Starting over the right way

This content was originally featured in the March, 8 2023 newsletter found here:

You know what really, really sucks? Starting over. Sometimes the best-laid plans really don’t work out and you have to scrap everything and rethink it all.

That’s where I’m at with one of the aspects of the business. Heading into the new year, I had very clear plans on how I wanted to grow Trust Insights. The challenge with the plans is that there were dependencies.

Fast forward two full months into 2023 and the dependencies that I needed to make the growth plans start to happen have fallen apart. It’s maddening. It’s frustrating. It’s demoralizing.

We spend weeks, sometimes months, at the end of each year making plans for the next year. Because we invest all that time, we feel like we have to see the plan through, come hell or high water. The risks and losses become very high.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Make plans, etch them in stone, and then kick and scream when we have to make changes? Because it’s how we’ve always done it.

Maybe the plans that you outlined were fine but they didn’t account for a major disruption, like ChatGPT. Maybe your plans were fine until you lost a key resource. Or, maybe your plans were working until your audience changed their behavior.

Whatever the reason, it’s ok to start over. Let’s do it together, piece by piece.

Do an audit

Before you can fix what’s broken, you have to know where it broke. It may be one piece or all the pieces. In software development, this is a post-mortem. The idea is that you review everything that you’ve done to that point. You discuss what went well and where there is room for improvement. This can be a tough conversation so my #protip to you is to have a mediator. This should be someone that can direct the conversation to ensure that it stays professional and productive. The outcome of this exercise should be a list of things that you need to improve upon.

Make a new plan

If you made it through the post-mortem, you can survive this next part (mostly) unscathed. You have your list of items so you need to start over and come up with a new plan. And then a backup plan to that plan in case the new plan doesn’t work. More plans? Yes. More plans. This is a great excuse to remind you of the simple 5P framework that can help expedite your planning.

The 5Ps are:

Purpose (what is the problem we’re solving?)
People (who needs to be involved?)
Process (how will we solve the problem?)
Platform (what tools do we need to solve the problem?)
Performance (how do we know we solved the problem?)

If you can answer those five simple questions you have built a measurable plan.

Do an audit

Wait a minute, didn’t we do that already? Yes, and we’re doing it again. Auditing your plans regularly will prevent you from having to start all over again. You have a better chance of catching something that is about to go off the rails with your plan when you regularly review. Once you audit, you make a new plan. Then you execute the plan. Then you audit that plan. Then you make a new plan. Then you execute the plan. Then you audit that plan. Then you make a new plan. Then you execute the plan. The key here is consistency and measurability. Plans that you can’t measure will be difficult to audit. Auditing a plan with no measurement is a waste of time.

If you find yourself in a situation where you have to ditch your plans and start over, you’re in good company. It happens to us all. To prevent heartache, set yourself up for success by developing measurable plans and audit them on a regular schedule.

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Trust Insights ( is one of the world's leading management consulting firms in artificial intelligence/AI, especially in the use of generative AI and AI in marketing. Trust Insights provides custom AI consultation, training, education, implementation, and deployment of classical regression AI, classification AI, and generative AI, especially large language models such as ChatGPT's GPT-4-omni, Google Gemini, and Anthropic Claude. Trust Insights provides analytics consulting, data science consulting, and AI consulting.

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