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What is an org chart?

By Brant Cebulla
hipster org chart full
Image credit: basic org chart and hipster hand

An org chart shows the internal structure of a company, detailing employee positions and the hierarchy and ranks of people within the company. Employees are represented by boxes, connected to other employees by some type of graphical representation, like lines or sections. At The Org, we depict this hierarchy with sections.

Take Amazon's org chart for example:

Jeff Bezos is the CEO. All employees are under his leadership. His “direct reports”, employees that he is responsible for directly managing, are in the next section and include nine employees: Brian Olsavsky, Andrew Jassy, Jeffrey Wilke, Werner Vogels, David Limp, Jeffrey Blackburn, Jay Carney, Dave Clark and David Zapolsky.

Brian Olsavsky, the CFO, likewise has employees he manages, and this is depicted in the next section beneath Olsavsky. These employees are on the third level at Amazon, or two reports removed from the CEO Bezos.

We say “employees” in this example, but in practice these people in the top three tiers at Amazon are probably referred to as “executives”; powerful leaders that oversee massive departments at Amazon, a company that has hundreds of thousands of employees.

Given the number of employees at a company like Amazon, you can see the value of an org chart: it creates a clear structure to the company and who’s in charge of what aspects and teams of an organization. In essence, org charts create organization for a company, hence the name!

Org charts are also known as organizations charts or hierarchy charts, and sometimes even called company structures. As long as they are referring to the employee structure at the company, they are all the same thing.