The LNO framework is a great way for PMs to take control of their lives. PMs cannot do every task well, lest they work themselves to death.
So, the types of work that PMs should prioritize in the leverage category is primarily vision and strategy. Scoping work is lower leverage, and executional details of the backlog is the lowest leverage.
After identifying the work, the challenge is to prioritize it. Most of the executional work has to be done by someone. PMs have a few tools to offload it. The first method to offload the scope & backlog work is to involve engineering early in the process of strategy and vision. This gives them the context to make product decisions on their own.
The second method to offload the scope & backlog work is to empower engineers and designers to make those decisions on their own. This is easy to say but hard to do in practice. PMs have to let the team ship features, and cheerlead on their decisions, even when the PM does not agree. Many times, product leadership will express this intent but then act completely different in product reviews, dictating details of the product. This must be avoided to focus on high leverage work.
How is it that we all say we want the same thing i.e. to create tremendous value for our customers, to grow the company’s business and its positive impact, and yet we end up with such conflicting versions of “truth” in the throes of the inherent complexity of our work?
At least part of the answer lies in the observation that we are often speaking to each other in different languages, but are unaware of it. We litigate the minutiae of a decision, without recognizing that one of us is engaged in Product thinking & the other in Project thinking.
Project Thinking: Project Thinking is about understanding expectations, formulating plans, marshaling resources, and coordinating actions to meet those expectations. Product Thinking: Product Thinking is about understanding motivations, conceiving solutions, simulating their effects, and picking a path based on the effects you want to create.
In these worst-case scenarios, the problem seems to be exactly as Baron describes, as the users are not treated as rational beings with the ability to make informed choices but instead as fodder for increased metrics, whether that be increased sales, clicks, loyalty program signups, or otherwise. We can contrast this with a more ethical model that places the user’s needs and autonomy first and then constructs a platform that will best serve those needs. Instead of tricking or pressuring the user to increase brand metrics, designers will try to meet user needs first, which if done well, will naturally drive engagement.
What is interesting about this user-first approach is that it does not necessarily reduce to considerations of autonomy.