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Org Chart Creation: Art or Science?

David Bowman account based marketing plans Fortune 500 companies Fortune 500 org charts OrgChartCity strategic account planning

Question:  “What's the best way to understanding Fortune 500 organizational structures?”

Answer:  Two parts deduction, two parts intuition, two parts style, and a sprinkling of magic dust.

Deduction comes from hard, sometimes repetitive work. Sifting through reams of information like executive profiles, annual reports, keynote speaker biographies, social media profiles, Google searches, and more. In addition, understanding how large companies operate and even how companies in specific industries operate helps deduce organizational structures.

Intuition comes in part from personal and practical experience of how companies work and, perhaps more importantly, how do people act and work. Do people like to "brag" about their accomplishments or are they more reserved? Are marketing people more likely to tell you what they do than IT people? Are manufacturing companies more reserved than financial institutions? Are people in the Southeast more forthcoming than companies in the Midwest?

For instance, take Joe, who is the Vice President of Communications at Big Company, Inc. Through diligent research you uncover that he reports to the Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Perhaps you found this on the company website or an annual report.

Good and necessary deduction work. This is a simple reporting line that can be drawn on the org chart and you can move on, right?

Not necessarily. While digging through more information you get an intuitive feeling that Joe has his hands in all marketing communications. Following that, you realize that Joe is responsible for all marketing communications and, in fact, spends most of his time in this endeavor. You can safely estimate that 75% of his time is spent with the Chief Marketing Officer, who just so happens to be the second most powerful person in the company.

This is where the org chart artist comes in; the "Chartiste" as we call them at OrgChartCity.

Perhaps the best approach would be to have the hard line pointing to the CFO and a dotted line pointing to the CMO. Top it off with a note right on the chart so you won't forget and sprinkle a little color-coding to make it easy on the eyes.

Some further considerations that we'll delve into further with additional blog articles:

  • Titles: A VP at one company can be like a Senior Manager at another
  • Budgets: Company, Divisional, Departmental, individual. How to find this information.
  • Decision Makers: How to determine a person's role
  • Scoring Data: How reliable does information need to be before it makes its way onto the org chart?
  • Crowd Sourcing: How valuable is it
  • Corporate Personality: Most companies take on the personality of the CEO
  • Annual Reports: What can you expect out of an annual report or 10K that can help you?
  • Resources: Where are the best places to look for information and how much will it cost, if anything?
  • Private Companies: How do you handle companies that simply are not forthcoming about their executives?
  • Mid-Size Companies: How do you handle a mid-sized company that may only have three executive officers and not much information on anything else?


Creating org charts involves a certain layering of information to make a clear picture. Like an artist painting a barn in a field, you must pick the subject, then the canvass, the brush types, next the background is applied, then the middle scene, and finally the foreground. All the while considering lighting, colors, and textures. A picture emerges that captures the scene in its entirety. Yes, there is a red barn in a field, but also it is spring and the leaves are growing, the birds chirping, and the hay is ready for harvest.

Stay tuned for more articles tackling issues involving understanding organizational structures.

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About the author

David Bowman is the founder/president of, an online company that provides premium-quality organizational charts on the top Fortune 500 companies. IT, Marketing, HR, Legal, Finance, Supply Chain, and Sales are all examples of departments that are mapped out. Visit today to learn more about how to invigorate your strategic account planning efforts and target account based marketing plans.

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