The LNO Framework Explained by Shreyas Doshi
Born in Mumbai, India, he obtained a degree in computer engineering, went to the United States to pursue a PhD in computer science, and joined the tech industry by helping startups as a software engineer.
After attending many customer meetings, he got introduced to solving the product’s issues himself, and eventually fully transitioned to product management. From now on, he’s known as a massive source of valuable information & insights when it comes to tech.
While working at Google, Shreyas discovered the LNO Framework, a new, interesting way of differentiating tasks as a product manager. By prioritizing your tasks, and allocating more time and effort into what really matters, you’re able to get more things done efficiently.
See it as a new, improved method to fight procrastination, and set up your task-list differently. Anyone can use this method to improve their productivity, not just product managers!
Unlike other prioritization methods like the Eisenhower Matrix, this specific framework not only stresses on time, but also on quality.
In fact: tasks are not created equal.
They don’t have the same importance. So why writing them on your list with the same colour? This framework will help you getting things that matter most done exquisitely.
The main question asked by this framework regarding tasks is the following: "How impactful will the result of this task be for my business?". Therefore, the focus here is to allocate the most effort to those that multiply your impact, and spend less on easy, quick tasks that could have taken more if no such prioritization system was in place.
The LNO Framework classifies tasks in 3 different types:
- Leverage “L” tasks are those you need to put the most focus on, because they’re the ones where your sense of perfectionism and proficiency are solicited. This is the type of task you want to achieve in the best way possible, to produce an exquisite piece of work.
- Neutral “N” tasks require you to do your job, just as you would normally do: strictly perfect. This type of task usually requires time more than abilities (being in charge of meeting notes, refining virtual workspace). Do it with your usual efficiency, so you have more time for Leverage.
- Overhead “O” tasks, on the other hand, must be done, without really putting effort into quality. Think of it as an important task that can be done quickly, without much thinking. As Shreyas puts it, since you’re a perfectionist, you should end up doing a normal, OK-tier job.
Here is an example of a daily product manager to-do list. Clean and simple, but the tasks remain different, and some are definitely less important than others. With a list like this, you’ll simply go through them the same way, with the same focus & energy.
Now let’s apply the LNO Effectiveness Framework to the same list:
More than a way to gain more time for the most important tasks, LNO permits to organize your time better by defining what needs more or less focus.
Shreyas says that most product managers that don’t apply this framework sometimes work more on execution issues rather than refining strategy, reason why they “don’t have time”. The reasons can be a load of meetings, too much focus, but in the end, we’re all afraid of a task that might change the base of the process or the product.
In order to stop procrastinating, Shreyas also shop instead of your usual office when focusing on these specific tasks is a mindful way of changing your working habits, and set yourself free from distractions you would find in your usual workplace.
Common pitfalls of prioritization
Prioritizing what to do and what to focus on is at the core of this framework, and Shreyas has a significant experience in fine-tuning teams by leading them the right way.
However, there are some pitfalls when it comes to prioritization. Things like over-engineering the process, not considering constraints lead to fixation effect & bad communication.
In Lenny Rachitsky’s podcast, Shreyas was asked about what to avoid prioritizing what to do in most companies in recent times.
Shreya’s view revolves around minimizing opportunity cost rather than solely relying on good ROI’s (value created higher than your time spent doing the task). He showcases Lenny and the audience a formula that can define if you prioritize correctly in relation to your business
- (Value created - Cost of your time) / Time taken (cost of your time)
Thanks to this formula, you’re able to pick things that are way more important, and put way more value into your work when thinking about low opportunity costs. For Shreyas, being ROI-focused makes you ask yourself “Am i doing the right thing?”. Low opportunity cost focus asks yourself
“Am I doing the right thing?”
Needless to say we could think of a wide variety of tasks when it comes to being a product manager. Even if the to-do list seems to never end, this is what drives the passion for product: continuous discovery, strategy refining, detailing and managing tasks.
More than one of multiple frameworks you can put in place to better your product management skills, managing your tasks following LNO also helps you take more time for oneself, and serves as a reminder that not all tasks need to be stellar: overhead tasks are meant to take less time and effort.
Increase your impact and take full control of your life by using LNO!
As Shreyas said, “This framework improved the quality of my life as a PM & my work more than anything else I’ve encountered.”.