Seems like everyone in the Product Management blog-o-universe just loves to chat about where Product Management should report in the organization.
Unsurprisingly, among us Product Management weenies of the world, the overwhelming consensus that Product Management should report directly to the CEO.
Thing is, asking this question of product managers is a little like asking a five-year old if candy should be served with every meal instead of vegetables. OF COURSE the five-year old will opt for candy instead of nutritious veggies.
OF COURSE, the head of Product Management will say that he/she should report to the CEO, because it’s cool to say you report to the CEO. By reporting to the CEO, a whole new world of wicked awesome job titles becomes available. Ones like “Executive VP of Product Management,” “Chief Product Officer,” and “Grand Master Poobah of Productulation and Productification.” Just think of how much more awesomer your business cards could be with that type of kick-ass title on it! Your mother — and more importantly, your mother-in-LAW– would be so freakin’ impressed.
OF COURSE the in-the-trenches product manager will say that the Product Management function should report directly to the CEO. That elevates the perceived importance of Product Management in the organization, doesn’t it? It brings you one, or maybe even two, steps closer to the CEO, and you’re only a few heartbeats away from the throne after that! Maybe they’ll even ask you to take over the company if all the executives die in a tragic if a plane crash (hey, it could happen; last year, they all went to that executive retreat in Hawaii together)! World domination awaits.
OF COURSE the product management training firms and product management consultancies say that Product Management should report directly to the CEO, because that makes it easier to sell higher-priced engagements. They need even more money to stuff into their money chairs and money sofas, plus it’s fun to make money angels on the floor next to that huge pile of money. (!!!MONEY!!!)
But will any of these self-interested parties acknowledge these reasons? OF COURSE NOT. Instead they will all put forth the argument that reporting directly to the CEO is indeed the Best Thing For The Company, and quite possibly for civilization at large. They might even believe their own arguments.
But is it REALLY the best thing for Product Management to be so-elevated?
If it is indeed the best organizational structure, why do so few companies do it?
If it’s the best, where’s the proof that companies with elevated Product Management functions actually get better results? To the contrary, one of the most successful companies in the industry – Apple – has a significantly DE-ELEVATED (that’s not the right word… is it deflated? depressed? ) Product Management function.
The Cranky Product Manager has said it once, she’ll say it again. If you have _good_ product managers, who are savvy influencers and can set a true vision and roadmap for their products, it does not matter one freakin’ bit where they reside in the organization. Because they will get the job done no matter what. They will make the necessary alliances and get people on board. no matter if they are within the same organization or not.
In fact, the Cranky Product Manager usually suspects that those who whine too much about Product Management’s place in the organization are likely not so great at their jobs. Her five-year old child would agree.