Demystifying design leadership levels

I've always found it ironic that the field of design is dedicated to helping people understand various "things", when we make the field of design itself so difficult to understand! I've hired around 30 designers and around 10 design leaders, and I've found job titles are no exception to this. There's a plethora of design job titles out there with an enormous variation in responsibilities and job functions. Below are just a few I've run across:

  1. Vice presidents of design with an entire career spanning 3 total years

  2. Design leads that haven't managed or mentored other people

  3. Senior level designers that have "managed large ux departments"

There has been at least one attempt over the years to bring clarity to how design roles could be differentiated, the ux leadership model. While I've always thought that model was great and helpful, I thought it was due for a refresh and a different approach.

What follows below is my attempt at creating a design leadership hierarchy that more clearly differentiates design roles.

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