I heard about the LNO framework from Shreyas Doshi. For a product manager, it’s a powerful way of thinking about your todo list, to ensure you’re delivering valuable output consistently.
It started when Shreyas joined Google. He had a hard time keeping pace with the high performance environment. He had his first child shortly after starting. He was working long hours, tired, feeling overwhelmed and stressed.
Unsatisfied with his output and a never ending todo list, it was really starting to take its toll on his personal life. Searching for solutions, he hit on the LNO framework, it was a game changer.
Your tasks are not created equal. Categorise them into three types (L, N, and O):
L = leverage tasks
- You can get 10x or 100x in return for the effort you put in, they offer significant leverage for you
N = neutral tasks
- You get roughly what you put in, or maybe a little more sometimes, but not by much
O = overhead tasks
- You get back less than you put in, sometimes a lot less
People tend to treat these tasks the same, they all sit on the todo backlog together. This was the epiphany Shreyas had at Google; among the things in the todo list, there were very few L tasks. Yet these are the tasks which propel you forward.
It made sense to focus a lot on those L tasks, and to work on them when feeling most energetic and productive. Allow your inner perfectionist to shine, spend more time on them than you normally would. Indulge yourself.
Then, spend less time on N and O tasks.
N tasks, just get them done quickly with minimal effort. Take chunks of time to blitz through them in one go, don’t worry about perfection.
For O tasks, actively do a bad job on them, cut corners. Your inner PM perfectionism will most likely prevent you doing a really poor job, but try and set the bar as low as you can for O tasks. Don’t wordsmith it perfectly, don’t fuss over every detail, just get these things off the list.
A simple example is writing up notes from a meeting. Is this meeting important? Was the CEO or product leader on the call? Are the topics of high consequence? If so, this could be an L task if you do it well — people will use these notes, they could be the basis of a strategic decision. If the meeting was routine and low consequence, maybe no-one will even read them, so it sounds like an O task, do it the quick and dirty way.
Some days N and O tasks will take over. It’s fine, but recognise it. Set yourself the mission of clearing those N and O tasks in a day or two.
Then block out time for the L tasks, don’t context switch. Change location for them, like at a coffee shop or different room in the house, it will force a change in your focus.
Creating regular time for L tasks will increase the value of the output you create, and create leverage for you.