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August 27, 2008

Is Your Company Hippo Prey?

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 12:10 pm

failpictures.comMarc from BrandLabs and I were talking about business today, and he introduced me to a term called HiPPO. HiPPO stands for “Highest Paid Person’s Opinion” and it’s a great acronym to describe a phenomenon that occurs in a lot of companies. HiPPO occurs when employees are afraid to challenge the ideas of their bosses.

Often times the CEO of a company knows what’s best – that’s why he’s in the decision making position. Sometimes though, his ideas aren’t always the best. This usually happens when somebody in management is making a decision in an area where they don’t have much experience. It’s these times where the boss is counting on everybody else to guide him, and it’s these times where you shouldn’t just blindly agree with him.

CEO’s come up with bad ideas too, and as an employee it’s your job to let them know when they do. Bad companies run with bad ideas. Good companies run with good ideas – even if the person who came up with it doesn’t have an office with a window.

Take a look at your company. Are you currently slaving away on a project that you know is destined for fail? Do you know a better way to do it? Can you back up your ideas with numbers or research? If so, why haven’t you spoken up? This civil rights lawyer in Indianapolis will fight for your equal rights in the workplace.

Don’t let the HiPPO consume your company.


  1. Sometimes I think the only reason that Rob and Jim Hired me at Identity.net is because I’m not afraid to tell them when I have a better way to do something.

    Comment by Ryan — August 27, 2008 @ 12:41 pm

  2. Where I really see the HiPPO effect a lot is with web site design and marketing. Either someone doesn’t like how a site’s laid out, or there are different opinions of how a graphic on the home page should look. Everyone brings their own opinions to the discussion, but in the end people are usually cowed by the HiPPO (hippo’ed by the HiPPO?).

    At any rate, for these design elements, we use Google Website Optimizer. The idea is that instead of saying, “that won’t work” or “well, i don’t agree with you, do it anyway” you say, “hey, that’s an idea that we can test out on the site.” You just set up the variations you want to try, and run until you get enough data to draw conclusions from the experiment. It’s all very scientific, but it’s a lot easier than someone might think, and everyone can feel good about their contribution.

    The other thing is promotions. You can’t just come in one day and say, “[competitor] is doing a 20% off sale, so we need to do a 20% off sale right now.” There are profit margins to consider, and whether or not there’s a holiday coming up, when was the last time a sale was run, are the customers going to stop buying without offering a sale if you run too many sales, when is the next e-mail newsletter going out, will we have banners on the site, will we notify our affiliates, are we using a coupon code or are we putting the products on sale for everybody, etc.? Many people don’t realize all the ways that can be explored to make a sale a success, and instead get a banner up on the site, call it a day, and then try to figure out why traffic wasn’t up and sales weren’t as high as they expected. A better route would be to try every available channel to promote the sale, and then analyze what worked best. Combine that with different landing pages tested with Website Optimizer, and you can really start to figure out what your customers like.

    The bottom line: everything must be tested scientifically. Buy-in will be higher from the team that makes it happen, and you’ll be able to use what you learn to make the next site change or promotion an even bigger success.

    Comment by Marc Dula — August 28, 2008 @ 10:10 am

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