The term “HiPPO” is well known and refers to the ‘Highest-Paid Persons Opinion’ – the tendency for significant business decisions to come from senior leaders and their untested assumptions and ‘intuition.’
Aside from the fact that these initiatives rarely ever actually work, they can be incredibly destructive.
Because they ignore and undermine the experience of the people on the front-lines and those who have the in-depth subject knowledge, who rarely get asked for their opinion.
However, the issue is not with the fact that senior leaders are coming up with ideas, or with the purposes themselves.
The problem is that the idea gets prioritized above everything else, is produced and launched with no testing, and any data or insight around the concept and how it performs is usually an exercise in ‘spin’.
But the idea is just an idea, and every idea is valid if subjected to proper experimentation. The aim is not to get rid of the HiPPO and their ideas.
instead, get them to understand that their idea is going to be quantified and tested along with all other ideas.
A robust process for capturing and processing all ideas means that this can be communicated back to them in an incredibly rational way.
HiPPO’s opinions are presented as fact, but they are subjective.
This can be incredibly problematic when other plans are derailed to focus on what the highest-paid person wants to be done.
Even if there is no research or data to back it up, not only does this change of direction increase costs, waste time and jeopardize confidence, but it may also only be the wrong action to take.
So how do you tame the HiPPO?
Data can take the emotion and opinion out of decision-making.
First, try to find a data set that informs your decision. If there isn’t a data set that works precisely, try to find something similar that you could use as a fact-based foundation to help guide the decision-making.
When you depersonalize decision-making, it’s not about you or what you think or what the HiPPO thinks.
It’s about what the facts state. Be hyper-focused on what your customers are saying, get competitive data and other external benchmarks in your analysis.
HiPPO’s must remember the role others have played in past successes and to make the most of the people around them.
Today, everyone in the organization needs to be well-versed in using data to make decisions. Make sure that every employee has access to the data flow and tools to analyze it.
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