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Innovation&: HiPPO Innovation

Updated: Oct 8, 2023

Wie die Agilitätsbremse in Organisation lösen

Title: What Helps Against HiPPO Innovation? Data-Driven Decision-Making as the Solution

In an ever-changing business world, innovation is crucial to remaining competitive. However, organizations often face a problem: HiPPO innovation. This article examines the challenges of HiPPO innovation and how data-driven decision-making serves as a solution to revolutionize the innovation process.

HiPPO Innovation: An Introduction

HiPPO stands for 'Highest Paid Person's Opinion' and refers to the tendency for decisions in organizations to often be based on the opinions of the highest-paid individuals, often executives or CEOs who set the direction. While their experience and wisdom are invaluable, HiPPO innovation comes with significant risks and drawbacks, especially for innovation projects outside historically known markets and/or products.

The Pitfalls of HiPPO Innovation

1. Bias and Subjectivity

HiPPO innovation results in decisions that are biased toward the views of a few individuals. These decisions can neglect the needs of customers, employees, and other stakeholders.

2. Risk Avoidance

HiPPOs are often cautious and risk-averse because their decisions have significant impacts on the company. This can lead to the rejection of innovative ideas associated with uncertainty, even if they have great potential.

3. Lack of Creativity

When HiPPOs make all the decisions, they can stifle employee creativity. Fear of rejection or conflict can prevent innovative ideas from being shared.

"Everything in innovation (including HiPPOs ideas) is initially a hypothesis until proven or disproven by data."

The Solution: Data-Driven Decision-Making

To overcome the drawbacks of HiPPO innovation, more and more organizations are turning to data-driven decision-making. This approach relies on using data and analysis to guide and inform decision processes. Here are some key ways data-driven decision-making can help:

1. Objective Insights Over Opinions

Data-driven decision-making relies on objective data and analysis, enabling organizations to base decisions on facts rather than opinions. This leads to more rational and informed decisions.

2. Customer-Centricity

Analyzing customer data allows organizations to better understand the needs and preferences of their customers. This, in turn, can help develop innovative solutions based on actual customer requirements.

3. Risk Management

Data-driven decision-making assists in objectively assessing risks and opportunities. Organizations can quantify potential risks and take appropriate actions to mitigate them.

4. Employee Engagement

Data-driven organizations encourage employee participation in the innovation process. Employees at all levels are encouraged to contribute ideas based on data, fostering a culture of innovation.

Implementing Data-Driven Decision-Making

Transitioning from HiPPO innovation to data-driven decision-making requires careful planning and a change in corporate culture. Here are the steps to successfully make this transition:

1. Collect and Analyze Data

Start by gathering relevant data from various sources within and outside the organization. This may include customer data, market trends, and internal performance metrics. Invest in data analysis tools and expertise to gain actionable insights.

2. Empower Cross-Functional Teams

Form cross-functional teams comprising employees from different departments and hierarchical levels. Encourage these teams to collaborate on data analysis and decision-making to consider diverse perspectives.

3. Develop Data Literacy

Promote data literacy throughout the organization. Provide training and resources to help employees effectively understand and use data, enabling them to make meaningful contributions to data-driven decision-making.

4. Define Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Establish clear KPIs that reflect the organization's goals and objectives. Use these KPIs to measure the success of data-driven initiatives and track progress over time.

5. Experiment and Evolve

Cultivate a culture of experimentation. Encourage teams to test hypotheses and try new approaches. Learn from successes and failures and use this knowledge to continuously improve strategies.

Real-World Examples

Several companies have successfully transitioned to data-driven decision-making and achieved impressive results:

1. Netflix

Netflix uses data analysis to create personalized content recommendations for its users, leading to increased user engagement and retention. Additionally, subject matter experts make decisions in their respective areas of expertise, taking responsibility for them.

2. Amazon

Amazon's data-driven approach to supply chain management has helped the company optimize inventory and reduce delivery times, enhancing the customer experience.

3. Tesla

Tesla collects data from its vehicles to continuously improve safety and performance. This data serves as the basis for software updates and product enhancements.


Innovation is crucial for success in today's highly competitive business world. While HiPPO-led decisions may have their place, they should not be the sole basis for decisions. Data-driven decision-making provides a more objective and effective approach to innovation, allowing organizations to harness the power of data to make informed decisions, mitigate risks, and seize new opportunities.


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