Beware of Hippos in Your Company

In most businesses, responsibility for the most critical decisions is generally left to the highest-paid person’s opinion — the Hippo effect.

Andrew Constable MBA
3 min readMay 5, 2021


But what is a HIPPO Effect?

HiPPO is an acronym for the highest-paid person’s opinion” or the highest-paid person in the office.” The acronym is used to describe the tendency for lower-paid employees to defer to higher-paid employees when a decision has to be made”. Taken from Wikipedia

The recent example of the European superleague was a prime example of this case in point. At no point were the key stakeholders’ views like the management team, employees, and importantly fans are taken into account. Yes, football clubs are run as a large business, but it appears on the surface that the owners of the 12 clubs decided among themselves to push forward with this. After a massive backlash from fans and the media, the decision was made to pull out of the agreement.

A business owner or manager may not fully understand what is going on across the firm. If they are involved in overseeing and developing the business, their exposure to what is happening across lower levels may be limited. The result can be a blind spot.

Unfortunately, when business owners or managers lack insight into the entire firm, there may be negative effects. Their limited perspective can reduce the quality of their decision making and business planning, leading to disengaged staff, less productivity and critically impacting customer service.

Planning is a team effort, which is why it’s a good idea for management teams to take the time to step back and examine their business through employees’ eyes.

The importance of engaging staff for business planning

Good people are essential to any business’s ongoing success and have the business’s strengths and weaknesses first-hand. Their insights can shed light on issues that may be compromising the firm’s profitability and productivity. Just talking to staff to find out their thoughts about how the business is run can help build trust and also help towards:

  • highlighting where



Andrew Constable MBA

Strategic Innovation & OKR Consultant for Medium-Sized Businesses ⟫ Partner, Author & Lecturer ⟫