Breaking Down Complexity

The ability to cope with, untangle and simplify complex problems and situations.

Breaking Down Complexity

Level 1

Takes small non-obvious user experiences and finds ways to design for them. Communicates reasoning and challenges effectively to team.

  • Dealing with unknowns: You're able to hold a number of unknowns around a project in your head, documenting and explaining them without needing to 'solve' them as you work.

  • Domain expertise: You listen to user research and hold insights without jumping to obvious answers.

Level 2

Comfortable in larger, more complex problem spaces. Able to simplify complexity both on their own and when explaining to others.

  • Dealing with unknowns: You demonstrate patience and resilience around difficult, slow moving and ill-defined projects, seeing them through to a positive conclusion despite the constraints.

  • Domain expertise: You listen to or guide qualitative research in ways that tease out non-obvious answers and insights. You work to dig deeper and put people in the position to be able to give you great insight.

Level 3

In their element leading difficult or sensitive work. Able to make sense of deeply complex problems and cut through to simple solutions.

  • Dealing with unknowns: You handle major problems with multiple layers of unknowns, and are able to navigate through them, prioritising and breaking them into small chunks or projects as needed.

  • Domain expertise: You can push researchers, users and your team to be ever more curious, looking for the right answer. Your work is well researched and insights documented and understood. You're not afraid to challenge assumptions of your seniors.

Level 4

Comfortable fully owning any complex problem. Invaluable to the team due to their knowledge and ability to upskill others in the domain.

  • Dealing with unknowns: You're able to recognise, hold and order unknowns on timelines across a product strategy, helping your organisation to prioritise and size complexity together. You show your patience and resilience across multiple problems and many months or years.

  • Domain expertise: You understand the problems better than anyone in your team. You regularly challenge others' urge to over-simplify and jump to conclusions. You're rigorous in your pursuit of the true needs of your user, even if they can't directly voice them. You'll strive to understand those needs in the face of timelines and scope, with demonstrable results.

Level 5

Focused on understanding and disseminating the intricacies of entire businesses or systems. Deeply knowledgeable of both highly complex user requirements and highly technical solution spaces.

  • Dealing with unknowns: You've can take an ill-defined set of problems, and guide a company and product through understanding and solving those problems over time. You perfectly balance pragmatism and iteration with not jumping to easy conclusions, and guide others to do the same.

  • Domain expertise: The business sees you as a deep fountain of knowledge and insight - such is the depth of your ability to dig into needs, however tangled and complex. You're patient with long discovery processes, yet recognise diminishing returns and can act effectively and efficiently. You're called on for insight by senior staff regularly.

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