Pavel A. Samsonov tweeted about design reporting to product and it triggered an interesting discussion (just as many other product and design discussions that I see on Twitter).
Peter Merholz added their thoughts as you see below.
Designing hierarchies are sometimes complicated particularly when the organizations grow because the reporting needs to be realigned for the new energy and revised goals of the organization.
When we discuss design reporting to product or to the CTO or to a functional GM, in all cases the bottomline is that design contributes to the product. Even marketing as a function contributes to the product just as it is true for engineering, support, research and other departments.
However, Report to smells of hierarchy which is not always desirable. The question is not about flat hierarchies or cyclic hierarchies but somewhere we need to define boundaries for the dependencies and directions for operational accountability and ownership (stewardship) of work. In my post on content leadership where I wrote that leaders need to build more confidence among the people, this confidence helps in strengthening the hierarchy too.
Design reporting to product even if design as a function is part of the product sounds inaccurate because in any organization, design is outside the product as well.
Can we think of a better term than using Report to? For example Respond to, or Look up to? Work with? Anything that conveys *contributes to the product* rather than *merely reports to a position*. What else?