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The promotion process in my company specifies that you have to check a couple of boxes, one of which says "in order to be promoted you have to have worked on the design of a component or service”. My interpretation of this was, a service that talks to another service, does some processing and/or storing, etc.

My manager agreed that my team doesn’t provide many opportunities for new designs, and so I was promoted without having checked this box, because otherwise I’d have to wait for such an opportunity to arise and that could take forever. I’ve always worked on code that didn’t require any design.

Now, I want to switch teams, and upon talking to the team's manager he told me that first he wants to see a design doc that I have produced. I have no such thing. I have worked on designs with my team and I can talk about them, but I haven’t written one that is entirely of my own.

How do I bring this up with this team’s manager? I don’t want to be turned down right off the bat. Or worse, I don’t want this manager to question why I was promoted in the first place. I bring value to my team, just not in the form of designs.

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    No code change isn't without some aspect of design. I think you can broaden the term and find things that you did that fall in the definition. Did you solve bugs? did you do a root cause analysis? Did you have more than option solving the issue? Did you have pros/cons for each solution? Did you have to take into account factors like maintainability, security, testability? – NiRR Apr 30 at 11:53
  • @NiRR Yes, I did many of those things, but in my head, not in a document that I had to present to the rest of the team. :/ – mmm Apr 30 at 16:53
  • I think what you just mentioned is an important "edge" here to pull yourself in. Compile a list of things that meet the criteria of "design but not documented or presented", draw a line between these code changes and the criteria I mentioned above which are important aspects of design (security, testability, maintainablity), and check the hell out of that box. – NiRR May 1 at 7:22
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How do I bring this up with this team’s manager? I don’t want to be turned down right off the bat. Or worse, I don’t want this manager to question why I was promoted in the first place. I bring value to my team, just not in the form of designs.

The only thing you can do is to be honest.

Indicate that you don't have a design doc yet, but that you shared in a design you would be happy to discuss.

Maybe that will be enough, maybe it won't. Either way, you have nothing to hide and will be able to stand on your reputation.

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