How to avoid HIPPOs and RHINOs hijacking your roadmap

How to avoid HIPPOs and RHINOs hijacking your roadmap

Fractional GTM Head

Keeping your roadmap focused and aligned with strategic goals, and more importantly your expected revenues, is crucial. However, both

  1. HIPPOs (Highest Paid Person's Opinions) and

  2. RHINOs (Really here in Name Only)

Both present challenges, potentially derailing your roadmap with their influential but not always strategically aligned suggestions.

Here are 5 ways to counteract.

  1. Ask how decisions are being made? Signal for a need on how to to make decisions that involves criteria such as market research, customer feedback, and strategic alignment. This simple question can ground anyone, be it an exec or an IC (Individual contributor)

  2. Are decisions data driven? A culture of openness comes when there is encouragement all team members to bring data to support their suggestions. Utilizing A/B testing, user surveys, and market analysis can help provide the necessary evidence to guide decisions.

  3. Open roadmap planing: Involve a diverse group of stakeholders in the roadmap planning process, including those from product, engineering, sales, and customer support. By doing so, you'll notice that your execution actually improves *even though* your stakeholders may not agree with your roadmap.

  4. Transparent comms: Keep all stakeholders informed about the roadmap's progress, challenges, and changes. AI is making an impact here, keeping folks in sync, specifically weekly changes over informing only if there is a big once a month release, for example.

  5. Have a forum to bring ideas in: Have a process (We recommend BON!) including those from high-ranking executives or promising new opportunities. This process should assess the strategic fit, potential impact, and required resources, making sure what fits the strategy are slotted, thereby prompting a clarity of what the strategy is.

By adopting these tactics, PM leaders can maintain control over their roadmaps, ensuring they stay focused on delivering value to customers and achieving strategic goals, despite having both HIPPOS and RHINOS around.


For CEOs, founders and leaders in SaaS, crafting a product roadmap that aligns with both strategic goals and operational capacity is pivotal these days. While many roadmaps are built from the bottom-up, relying heavily on customer feedback and the louder internal voices, the key to sustained growth and profitability lies in a top-down strategic approach, balanced with an understanding of the company's capacity. 


Product Management


29 feb. 2024

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