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Progressing at work is too hard for designers and engineers

But don't worry! Here are some good examples of public and open source frameworks to help you or your team with personal growth.

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Artsy's compensation framework is based in part on Rent the Runway's ladder. They started building this at around 20 engineers.
Part of the open handbook for Basecamp. Simple, but goes also into rituals like pay and promotions.
Buzzfeed implemented this framework in 2015, and updated it in 2016 to the current version. It documents both IC (Individual Contributor) and Manager responsibilites for designers at Buzzfeed.
Capgemini's engineering ladder includes eight levels for software engineers, and has some nice principles, including being generic and language independent.

This means it may make a good boilerplate for other teams to build from - though eight levels will be overkill for most.

  • Engineering
A great example of a well explained Individual Contributor path. What's particularly useful is the human examples of what happens when you don't have a career ladder – many of which I've experienced too.
  • Design
This tool includes not only team skills assessment but a template for individual assessment, to be completed by each individual employee. It also includes some clever scoring.
The legendary Joel Spolsky shared this ladder all the way back in 2009, to support his company Fog Creek (Joel went on to found Trello and Stack Overflow). He calculates career level as a function of "experience", "scope" and "skills".
This isn't a detailed matrix, but more of a methodology behind how HBC think about career progression. It makes a compelling argument for having a principled structure and sticking to it. A great read from Adrian's experience both at HBC and at Gilt.

When looking to build your path, it's always worth leaning on frameworks that have been battle tested and iterated. The v1 never works first time!

Inspired again by Rent the Runway's work, Intent Media created their ladder to answer the questions of (a) what expectations everyone had of each other’s work; (b) what opportunities people had to grow within the company; and (c) what areas of their work they could focus on in order to best move into those new opportunities.

There's a great description at the start of the PDF giving more context as to the company size which necessitated this.

Kickstarter's framework was revealed shortly after Rent the Runway and again takes heavy inspiration from that work. It presents as one simple document, with roles and expectations for both engineers and data scientists written as prose.
A simple framework for both designers and researchers from the UK fashion startup.
An incredibly in-depth set of tools, blog posts and frameworks to assess engineering levels at publishing platform Medium.

Noteworthy because it encourages a varied number of paths to seniority, as illustrated by Snowflake, an exploratory UI on top of the framework

  • 2018
  • ・ London
British bank Monzo introduced this tool to help engineers and managers make development and career plans easier across Backend, Data, Mobile and Web development teams.
  • Design
  • Ope at Paystack ・
  • 2016
  • Remix freely
A framework fairly heavy on the front end development side. Split into four seniority levels for 'Generalist designers'.
  • Unknown ・
  • 2016
  • ・ San Francisco
An interactive levels framework for Individual Contributor engineers.
  • Design
One of the originals, by Peter Merholz, author of Org Design for Design Orgs. Does an excellent job of illustrating parallel Individual Contributor and Manager paths.
One of the first engineering ladders to be shared, and establishes the four pillars of “Technical Skill”, “Get Stuff Done”, “Impact”, “Communication & Leadership” that (often with wording tweaks) can be seen in many others now.
Songkick's engineering framework is a really nicely designed PDF with seven different areas of competency: Leadership, Mentorship, Technical skills, Communication, Emotional intelligence, Delivery and Business knowledge. Some good reading presented in a clear and legible way.

Because each level is on a single page, each employee could have it stuck to his or her space as a reminder.

Not a framework per se, but an in depth look at the process and learnings from creating a career path at Spotify.
Urban Airship's simple ladder for engineering and operations folk dates back as far as 2013, though it was updated in 2017. It's been forked by vaious other companies during its lifetime.

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Further reading