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They're out there... the single worst enemy of any successful or would-be-successful business.

I'm talking about the highest-paid person's opinion (HiPPOs). HiPPOs have created a lot of trouble recently. Experiences indicate that—from Wall Street to Main Street and at all points in between—being paid a lot of money doesn't necessarily correlate with having the right answer.

Of course, nobody would ever acknowledge that their organization only relies on the boss's opinion to make decisions, but in many cases, that's exactly what is happening. Ask yourself the question, "Do we tend to sit around a table arguing before reaching an 'agreement'?" If the answer is "yes," chances are that one way or another you are a victim of the HiPPO.

Collaborating is key in business success, and it's bad for business when everyone relies on one opinion, neglecting facts and data.

The Real-World Problem

Consider a mobile business wondering when to ask a user to opt-in for push notifications. That might seem like a small decision, but it has major implications. The greater number of users who opt-in exponentially increases marketing effectively down the line. When is the right time to ask the user to agree to an opt-in?

One school of thought would recommend moments after install because that's when you have the largest amount of users available. On the other hand, asking the question at that point is a little like walking up to people on the street and asking for their number. They don't know you, and you haven't given them the opportunity to get to know you, decreasing your chance of success.

Perhaps, then, we should wait. We will have fewer users to ask the question to (user churn is high in mobile apps after all), but by now they know us, trust us, and are more likely to say yes.

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image of Hugh Reynolds

Hugh Reynolds is CEO and co-founder of Swrve.

LinkedIn: Hugh Reynolds 

Twitter: @hughreynolds