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Last updated on 9/10/20

Understand the product organization

As a company grows in size, the number of product managers will likely need to increase.

  • The smallest product organization will only have a single product manager. 

  • A medium-sized product organization will likely have 2-5 product managers where all of the product managers report to a product lead. This product lead typically has either the  Chief Product Officer (CPO) or Vice-President (VP) Product title.

  • A large product organization will likely have more than 5 product managers. In this case, there may be a product manager of intermediate seniority with the title of Product Director. The Product Director will have several product managers reporting to them. The Product Directors themselves will report to the highest-ranked product manager (called either the Chief Product Officer or VP of Product). We will examine later in this chapter what the responsibilities of the CPO / VP of Product are.

A medium-sized product organization

Here is an organizational chart for the product team in a mid-sized product organization:

Medium-Sized Product Team - Typical  Organizational Structure
Medium-Sized Product Team - Typical  Organizational Structure

A large product organization

In a large company, each product or major product area has a Product Director who reports to the CPO / VP of Product.

Large Product Organization
Large Product Team - Typical Organizational Structure

Product Leadership Responsibilities

The CPO or VP of Product holds the following responsibilities:

  • Participate actively in recruitment: the CPO/VP of Product knows that the most important contribution they can make to company success is to hire fantastic product managers to work in the team and create a culture where they can all do their best work.

  • Set and communicate the overall product vision: the CPO/ VP of Product ensures that a product vision exists and relentlessly articulates this vision in conversations with the other departments in the organization.

  • Define the product strategy: the CPO/VP of Product outlines how the targets of each team and product manager contribute to the overall product strategy.

  • Ensure that each product manager can justify their decisions: each product manager must be autonomous enough to make effective decisions for their product area, and they must also be able to justify their decision-making process with concrete research, data, and logic. 

  • Mentor each of the product managers that report to them.


This concludes the course. Well done on its completion!

In this course, we have learned about the role and responsibilities of the product manager. We have also learned about the characteristics of an effective product manager and how to learn product management and how to get a role as a product manager. We also learned the difference between product manager and product owner, project manager and product marketing manager, as well as how the product organization works.

Whether this is the start of your career as a product manager, or you just want to know more about how to work with the product managers in your organization, it's important to know these foundations, and I hope you find them useful as you progress.

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