Who is the HiPPO?

8 January, 2015 (19:50) | Uncategorized | By: seth


HiPPO stands for Highest Paid Person’s Opinion

HiPPO driven decision making is the opposite of data-driven decision making.  The highest paid” person may be your boss, or the VP with his eye on the project, or even the CEO.  But no matter how many of those big bucks they are pulling down, it turns out that 2/3 of decisions made without the data are the wrong ones.

When promoting data-driven decision making at Microsoft we distributed 1000s of these little hippo squeeze toys.  Perhaps by squeezing our hippo toy, we are reminded to constrain our HiPPO from making rash decisions without data (somewhat look a voodoo doll).

But another, kinder way to look at the HiPPO is as the person who has final responsibility for product feature decisions, and as a reminder to get that person the data they need to make the data-driven decisions.

Either way, it reminds us that data trumps intuition.


[and remember the hippo is considered to be the most dangerous animal in Africa (not counting the mosquito)] :-)


Comment from Andrew
Time January 11, 2015 at 3:14 pm

Was it data that drove the decision to distribute 1000s of hippo squeeze toys or intuition?

Comment from seth
Time January 23, 2015 at 10:53 am

Andrew, each Hippo had the URL for our website on it. We could then see how traffic to our site changed with Hippo distribution. But if we REALLY wanted to be smart about it, we should have used different URLs for each “Hippo drop” so we could establish correlation

Pingback from Seth Eliot's Blog » Blog Archive » Lies, damn lies, and statistics – Your guide to misleading correlations.
Time May 10, 2015 at 11:33 am

[…] should trust data.  We certainly should trust data more than we trust the HiPPO.  But when we dive head-first into the data looking for answers when we ourselves do not know […]

Pingback from Watch out for the HiPPO
Time November 28, 2016 at 9:45 am

[…] My old colleague Seth Eliot also discussed the HiPPO in a blog post in a post last year. […]

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