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The dangers of HiPPOs (highest-paid-person’s-opinion) driving product creativity

The dangers of HiPPOs (highest-paid-person’s-opinion) driving product creativity

Let’s be real. The best ideas often don’t win.

If you’ve ever been in a meeting with senior management, you’re likely familiar with this scenario: A roomful of employees listen to a loud and assertive executive pitch his new product idea—one that he claims will drive sales north. After his spiel, one person agrees “100 percent” with everything the exec says. Two or three people are reluctant to speak, scared to disagree or suggest better ideas, partly because their past ideas have been reprimanded.

These are the dangers of involving HiPPOs (highest-paid-person’s opinion) in the early stages of product development.

Teams do need HiPPOs to lead the charge and keep the team on track, and HiPPOs often contribute great ideas. But how can brands and their product development teams prevent premature product decisions that are based on hunches or the loudest voices in the room? How can they improve their idea-generation process to increase creativity, product sales and customer satisfaction?

How to tame the HiPPO

The answer is to involve customers in the idea generation process, also known as co-creation. Co-creation uses technology to gather input or product/advertisement ideas from large numbers of people. Brands can involve their customers or opt to listen to the voice of the market for product inspiration and feedback.

Co-creation can be a major support pillar for HiPPOs, a process that generates faster and better ideas, or that improves existing ones. Here are three ways co-creation can tame the HiPPO:

  1. Lowers the HiPPOs voice.

Customers have voices that are not influenced by HiPPOs. By introducing a fair and unbiased voting process, your end-users (customers) will vote on the top product or ad ideas. Co-creation amplifies the customer voice, making it the loudest in the boardroom.

  1. Puts your HiPPOs on a leash.

If you hand your HiPPOs a blank slate, it invites ideas that are more based on intuition than on data or consumer insights. Give your boss a set of ideas that come from your customers and they are less likely to align the team behind an idea that will fail.

  1. Silences your inner HiPPOs.

Perhaps you are the one with the most power in the boardroom, the one who makes the final decision. Co-creation allows you to open up and be accepting of only the best ideas. Co-creation lets you listen to customers objectively instead of falling in love with your own ideas.

Don’t let the HiPPO stifle creativity in your business. Have the process and the platform in place to collect and evaluate ideas from your customers quickly and efficiently. Remember to let the best ideas win—not the loudest voices.



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