Kumu Design Career Growth Framework

Crafting a dual-track growth framework that provides structure and guidance for Kumu's product design team

The design team at Kumu uses a dual-track growth framework. This allows designers to evolve in two directions—as individual contributors (ICs) or as managers.

At the lead level—before deciding to continue as an IC or switch to being a manager—designers will be hybrids or player-coaches. Player-coaches are exactly that—sometimes players, sometimes coaches. They straddle the line, experiencing both tracks, helping them decide which path fits them best.

Differences between an individual contributor, hybrid, and manager
Illustration: Diana Thai

Our Five Competencies

Our growth framework is divided into 5 competencies—Craft, Strategic Thinking and Planning, Execution, Communication, and Leadership—each of which has 2-4 different skills and different milestones you can reach.


Strategic Thinking & Planning




Hitting Milestones Using the 5C Rule

As you go deeper or take on more responsibilities, you cross a milestone. But, you don't achieve competency the first time you demonstrate relevant behaviors or tasks. In general, you must have demonstrated a "Conscious, Comfortable, Continuous, Consistent Competency" defined as follows:

Nurturing Different Designer Shapes and Sizes

We've always looked for multi-faceted, T-shaped individuals, who bring a lot to the table other than just their craft. But, having a rigid ladder and making them tick milestones from a checklist hampers these individuals’ growth and limits their shapes. People produce great work when they are at their natural best.

To nurture and accelerate the growth of the designers on the team, they are given the flexibility to identify which themes align with their personal journeys and which ones to focus on.

Different designer shapes overlapping to show the team's cumulative skill shape and gaps
Having designers of different shapes helps form a more well-rounded team.
How we built the Figma design team.

View the complete framework in tabular format here.