Escaping the HiPPO. No Trust = No Innovation. Webinar with Dave Roby
October 28 @ 3:30 pm - 4:30 pmFree
Here in the heart of sub-Saharan Africa, we find one of the most dangerous mammals on the earth today, the Hippopotamus amphibius.
A very rotund fellow indeed, the Hippo spends most of his time submerged to keep his skin moist and cool. Although hippos can’t actually swim. They simply glide through the water, pushing themselves off other objects.
And while hippos are social beasts, loitering in schools of 10 to 30 of both males and females, they are very aggressive and incredibly dangerous. Sporting large teeth and tusks that are used for fighting off anything considered a threat (including humans), the hippopotamus is responsible for killing an estimated 500 people a year in Africa.
The hippo is a very loud animal, and its snorts, grumbles, and wheezes measure up to 115 decibels.
So you can picture the scene.
You’re sat in an important meeting at work, nervously considering the HiPPO in the room. And the HiPPO is dominating the proceedings far too much.
Thankfully for the company’s health and safety officer, there isn’t actually a very large semi-aquatic mammal in the room with you.
Instead, this HiPPO – an acronym for the Highest Paid Person’s Opinion – and you and the other attendees are too scared to question its wisdom.
There’s not many employees (especially Innovation Managers) alive who haven’t spent time dreading a HiPPO attack; the sudden derailing of well-laid plans by a management or executive-level stakeholder who insisted that their direction was the right one, simply because it was their idea – regardless of whether or not they’d actually done any research or validation.
This is the HiPPO problem – the moment when the “Highest Paid Person’s Opinion” is asserted as fact and intended to be directional.
Often, these HiPPOs come from the executive level, from the CEO who has a new “vision” for the company or from the Operations Director who wants to take the company’s technology in a “new direction.”
HiPPOs can also pop up in various other contexts, such as sales management trying to ram through a hypothetically big sale. Or business development managers asserting that they know the “only” way to solve a problem. Or service delivery management teams insisting that the way they use the product is the way – and the only way – that all customers use the product.
So, for the purpose of this presentation today – we have both business owners and employees on the call today – I want to look HiPPOs from both points of view, from the HiPP (or Highest Paid Person’s) perspective and everyone else’s.
HiPPOs usually come with good intent – rarely does the HiPPO represent ill intent or a desire to be obstructive. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re right or that they should be allowed to dictate product direction without further investigation.
It’s a fact of life that every team has to have a HiPP. It’s just a fact of life. But are they the best people on which to rely on for opinions?