Linear Responsibility Chart (LRC) for Product Managers

Rohit Verma
5 min readMay 28, 2024

Product management is a multifaceted discipline requiring a delicate balance of strategic vision, tactical execution, and cross-functional collaboration. One tool that can aid in managing these complexities is the Linear Responsibility Chart (LRC). While often overshadowed by the more well-known RACI Matrix, the LRC offers distinct advantages in defining and clarifying roles and responsibilities within a project. In this article, we’ll explore the origins and history of the LRC, compare it with the RACI Matrix, and understand it with a real-life example using Spotify to illustrate its application. We’ll also discuss its limitations and how to mitigate them.

Origin and History of the Linear Responsibility Chart

The Linear Responsibility Chart (LRC) emerged in the mid-20th century as a method to enhance clarity and accountability in project management. It was developed in response to the growing complexity of organizational structures and the need for clear delineation of responsibilities across various functions. The LRC was designed to map out responsibilities in a linear, sequential manner, facilitating a clear understanding of who is responsible for what at each stage of a project.

Key Differences Between LRC and RACI Matrix

While both the LRC and RACI Matrix aim to clarify roles and responsibilities, they do so in different ways:

  1. Structure:
  • LRC: Arranges responsibilities linearly, focusing on the sequence of tasks and the flow of responsibility from one task to another.
  • RACI: Uses a grid format to categorize roles as Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed for each task.

2. Focus:

  • LRC: Emphasizes the progression of tasks and the handoff of responsibilities.
  • RACI: Emphasizes the classification of roles within each task.

3. Detail Level:

  • LRC: Provides a more detailed and task-oriented view, often suitable for complex projects with clear sequential steps.
  • RACI: Offers a higher-level overview, useful for understanding the broader distribution of responsibilities.

Real-Life Example: Spotify Feature Development

To illustrate the application of the LRC, let’s consider the development of a new feature on Spotify: a collaborative playlist feature where multiple users can add and curate songs together.

Step-by-Step Breakdown of the LRC

  1. Define the Tasks:
  • Market Research: Identifying user needs and validating the feature idea.
  • Requirement Gathering: Defining technical and user requirements.
  • Design: Creating the UI/UX design.
  • Development: Coding the feature.
  • Testing: Quality assurance and user testing.
  • Deployment: Releasing the feature.
  • Marketing and Launch: Promoting the feature to users.
  • Post-Launch Monitoring: Collecting feedback and monitoring performance.

2. Assign Responsibilities:

  • Market Research:
    - Primary: Product Manager (PM)
    - Support: Market Research Team, Data Analysts
  • Requirement Gathering:
    -Primary: PM
    - Support: Technical Leads, UX Designers
  • Design:
    - Primary: UX/UI Designers
    - Support: PM, Front-end Developers
  • Development:
    - Primary: Front-end and Back-end Developers
    - Support: PM, QA Team
  • Testing:
    - Primary: QA Team
    - Support: PM, Developers
  • Deployment:
    - Primary: DevOps Team
    - Support: PM, Marketing Team
  • Marketing and Launch:
    - Primary: Marketing Team
    - Support: PM, Social Media Team
  • Post-Launch Monitoring:
    - Primary: PM
    - Support: Data Analysts, Customer Support

3. Create the LRC:


  • Market Research: The PM leads the market research with support from the market research team and data analysts to gather insights.
  • Requirement Gathering: The PM drives the requirement gathering, collaborating closely with technical leads and UX designers.
  • Design: UX/UI designers take primary responsibility for the design phase, with input from the PM and developers.
  • Development: Developers take the lead in coding, with the PM and QA team providing necessary support.
  • Testing: QA team ensures quality with assistance from the PM and developers.
  • Deployment: DevOps team handles deployment, supported by the PM.
  • Marketing and Launch: Marketing team leads the promotion, with support from the PM and social media team.
  • Post-Launch Monitoring: PM oversees monitoring, with support from data analysts and customer support.

Limitations and Mitigation Strategies


  1. Complexity in Large Projects:
  • In very large projects, the LRC can become cumbersome and difficult to manage due to the sheer number of tasks and roles involved.

2. Overlapping Responsibilities:

  • There can be instances where responsibilities overlap, leading to confusion and potential conflicts.

3. Rigidity:

  • The linear nature of the LRC might not be flexible enough for projects requiring iterative and agile approaches.

Mitigation Strategies

  1. Simplify Where Possible:
  • Break down large projects into smaller, manageable phases, each with its own LRC.

2. Clear Definitions and Communication:

  • Ensure that each role is clearly defined and communicated to all stakeholders to minimize overlaps and conflicts.

3. Adaptability:

  • While maintaining a linear responsibility structure, allow for iterations and flexibility in roles to accommodate changes and agile practices.

Final Thoughts

The Linear Responsibility Chart (LRC) is a valuable tool for product managers seeking to enhance clarity and accountability in project management. By mapping out responsibilities in a linear sequence, the LRC provides a clear understanding of who is responsible for each task at each stage of the project. While it has its limitations, with careful planning and adaptability, these can be mitigated effectively. Using the LRC in conjunction with other tools like the RACI Matrix can provide a comprehensive approach to managing responsibilities within product development, ultimately leading to more successful and well-executed projects.

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Rohit Verma

Group Product Manager @AngelOne, ex-@Flipkart, @Cleartrip @IIM Bangalore.