1️⃣Design growth framework

👋 Introduction

The Obvious design growth framework is intended to:

  • Be open enough for discovery and tight enough for direction

  • Create a tangible sense of progression, especially between levels

  • Inspire regular conversations and record-keeping to offset recency bias

  • Acknowledge and codify work that is often overlooked

  • Treat team members equitably and reward appropriately

  • Build a T-shaped career while recognising the breadth of capability in our teams

These goals, together, form the collective North Star for our growth framework.

While this framework is designed for a designer at a consultancy, it has strong parallels with the growth of a designer at a product company.

1️⃣ Team structure

There are two kinds of teams at obvious—dedicated product teams and horizontal specialist teams.

Dedicated product teams

Teams are structured as pods. One pod works on one project at a time. Pods consist of 1-2 product designers led by a lead product designer. Product designers are expected to do good research, visual design and write microcopy.

Specialist horizontal teams

To take our work to the next level we have dedicated teams for graphics, content and research for support where needed.

  • Graphics—Responsible for conceptualising and executing visual and motion collateral for delivery pods as well as internal teams related to hiring and sales.

  • Content—Responsible for planning and executing content-led experiences as part of overall experience design.

  • Research—Responsible for gathering knowledge around user needs and goals across projects, as well as evaluating if designs meet user goals.

2️⃣ Design levels

Levels 1 through 5 capture the increasing scope of responsibility of a designer. It applies to product designers, graphic designers, design researchers, and content designers alike:

LevelResponsibilitiesTime at level


Craft and execution of tasks

1 years


Craft and execution of complete features

2 years


Anchor & uphold Obvious’s standard of quality and speed for a pod consisting of 2-3 people.

3 years


Delivery success for 3 pods. Works regularly with the CXOs and (CXO-1)s.

4 years


Setting the engagement up for success with the client C-suite and focusing on the smooth functioning and evolution of the practice across the entire design org.

5 years +

3️⃣ Design skills

Product design has 7 skills for a designer to master - strategy, function, form, research, delivery, consulting, and positive surprises. The complexity of each skill goes up from level 1 to level 5:

Take a look at the complete framework here.

4️⃣ Mastering a level

For each skill at each level, a designer will go stages of mastery of the level. The stages of mastery use the metaphor of a video game:

  • Working towards: You’ve just started a new level of the game. You discover the challenges at this level and are working towards overcoming them.

  • Meeting : You’ve been playing at the level for a while. You’ve understood the challenges and have figured out how to do well enough to cross the level. However, you don’t cross the level just yet because you believe in mastery. Good isn’t good enough for you.

  • Exceeding : You solve every challenge at the current level with ease. You are also starting to pick up 1-2 parts of the next level too!

5️⃣ Moving to the next level

To move from the current level to the next, you will need to:


Exceed expectations on

  • Delivery

  • Consulting

  • Any 2 out of Strategy, Form, Function or Research

Six months or more

Meet expectations on

Remaining 2 skill areas

Six months or more

💡 Note: If, due to project circumstances, an individual hasn’t had the opportunity to demonstrate capability in one skill area, but has exceeded and met all other promotion criteria as needed, they can be given the benefit of doubt and promoted.

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