The HiPPO could be your best friend

I saw a great post at Crepuscular light the other day which is a humorous take on the HiPPO (the Highest Paid Persons’ Opinion) something that we all should avoid at all costs apparently. Certainly the opinions of the HiPPO Emer has interviewed would not be welcomed by any Analyst! I wouldn’t put up with anyone that ignorant.

However Lars and Emer got me thinking (always dangerous I know), about the HiPPOs and what the people actually say. I have to say that in the majority of cases the HiPPOs opinion has been reasonable given the information that they have had at their disposal at the time.

I would have to say that 99% of the executives I’ve met and discussed with have been pretty open. In fact the reason most of them are paid as well as they are is that they have a responsibility to make decisions based on the information presented to them.

I can remember 1 occasion where a HiPPO forced through a bad decision, but I could understand why that decision was made even then.

My point is I guess that HiPPOs are people too! :)

Our job, your job I’d argue is to make the HiPPO understand what your point is. You need to make the HiPPO your friend, because someone with influence is going to have to have your back when you tell the higher ups how much time, process, tools, people, training and culture is needed to become slick at business optimization.

That HiPPO could just make or break your career.

Steve is a well known analytics specialist, author and speaker. A pioneer since 2002, he established one of the first European web analytics consultancies (Aboavista), later acquired by Satama (now Trainers’ House) in 2006. In 2008 he wrote his first book Cult Of Analytics published on May 14th 2009. He currently serves as CEO at Quru and has presented and keynoted web analytics topics across Europe. These include The Internet Marketing Conference (Stockholm), The Search Engine strategies (Stockholm), IIH (Copenhagen), the IAB Finland (Helsinki), Media Plaza (Amsterdam), Design For Conversion (Amsterdam) The eMetrics Summit (London, Munich, Stockholm), Divia (Helsinki) in addition to sitting on dozens of panels.

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4 comments on “The HiPPO could be your best friend
  1. Lars says:

    I argue that anyone can be a HiPPO, regardless of salary. Power just makes it easier for you to get heard (and paid well), but some HiPPOs are in fact LoPPOs or AvPPOs.

  2. Agreed. It’s more a case of educating people generally not just executives. But my main point is most people don’t really “oppose” analytics any more at least in my experience. Their views usually center around what they are doing in their day to day job and how analytics can help them achieve something they couldn’t before.

    It’s more like they have the wrong expectations of what analytics should be and is that their fault or ours (as analysts?).

  3. To me, HIPPO makes more sense if it’s short for “Highly Important People’s Personal Opinion”. And “important” is meant to be ironic, as in people who think they are way more important that they really are.

    This version of HIPPO’s are often seen in the area of web design, where they are famous for comments like “can we make this button yellow, as that’s my favorite colour”. Or “my wife says the site should play an x-mas tune, as her dog really loves that”.

    They’re often totally oblivious to the fact, that you don’t design a website for the people at the company, you design it for it’s customers. And no matter what argument you come up with, it doesn’t matter.

  4. Hi Soeren

    My point is I rarely meet these kind of folks (whether they’re highly paid or highly important people) that are as lame as you’re suggesting.

    I have never in the course of my career ever had someone in a role like CEO/Exec/Planner/Product manager/Marketer ever say anything like that. When was the last time you were asked to do something really blatantly stupid by a client?

    Some of my clients have come out with ideas that I personally think won’t work. But if I’ve explained my point and they still disagree, I compromise and say that would be wise to test. Whole new discussion then.

    One other thing, sometimes I’ve had clients that are proven right in their assumptions and their gut feel. We tested what we thought were the ‘bad ideas’ and they worked.

    That is usually because the HiPPO might just know a thing or three about their customers that you the analyst hasn’t learned.

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