HiPPO - Highest Paid Person's Opinion

HiPPO - Highest Paid Person's Opinion is an affliction that affects most organisations. Managers tend to throw the weight of their designations on their juniors by asserting their will even though the subordinates may have a better perspective. This results in a culture where the workforce gets into an execution mode throwing away their thinking hats.

A famous quote from Jim Barksdale, Netscape CEO is “If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine.”

The most famous case is of Ron Johnson who was Sr VP of Retail operations at Apple and was responsible for the success and launch of Apple Stores. 

He was appointed CEO of JC Penney in 2011. Buoyed by his success at Apple, he had complete disdain for the competence of JC Penney staff or their culture. He frequently mocked Senior executives in public, ridiculing them for their decisions. 

He relied on his gut rather than data and bull dozed his way through implementing his mandate. 

By early fall 2011, Mr. Johnson was tackling Penney’s pricing, which he thought used too many discounts. He ignored a study Penney had just completed on customer preferences, and gave merchants a one-sheet grid explaining what prices they could use.

“Ron’s response at the time was, just like at Apple, customers don’t always know what they want,”

He was heady with his success at Apple and although encouraged by the company’s retail veterans to do so, Johnson decided not to test any of his changes because Apple  had never tested when growing its store network. 

Mr. Johnson liked to tell employees that there were two kinds of people: believers and skeptics, and at Apple, there were only believers. He wanted the same at Penney

Johnson had to finally be shown the door in 2013 with the company losing close to a Billion Dollars in 17 months and market capitalization fell by nearly 50%.

Src Forbes article What Happens When a 'HiPPO' Runs Your Company?

Src NYT's - Chief’s Silicon Valley Stardom Quickly Clashed at J.C. Penney


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