PLL (Product Logical Levels) framework to escape unproductive discussions

I went through NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) training recently and I was very impressed with the “Logical Levels” pyramid from Robert Dills (complete theory here). I found it extremely powerful and I thought it could be very useful to adapt it and bring it to the product world as a way to escape from sterile discussions that can happen between product people and their tech, business, or investor stakeholders. After a short intro about why product discussions are so often sterile, we’ll see how to apply PLL (Product Logical Levels) through 4 tangible examples.

Why are Product discussions so often sterile ?

It is very hard in the product world to have constructive discussions. To me, it is because everyone has an opinion regarding any products (except perhaps highly technical products). Besides, every one has their own “map” about how the product should be. This map is often biased through :

  • Specific feedback (often a friend or a relative of him)
  • Vision one has in mind (which might not be the same as other people in the company, especially if the company’s mission is unclear)
  • Professional agenda (a Sale’s rep willing to close a big deal with a specific prospect, an Ops wanting to speed up some process…).

The Product Logical Levels pyramid

Here comes the magical solution : moving upward in the PLL pyramid to re-create alignment.

The product logical levels pyramid

1/ From Solution level to Problem level

People love discussing solutions. As we saw in the intro, everyone has their own standard for what good looks like, so converging on a solution is hard ! Let’s look at an example taken from an e-commerce platform that sells shoes. Your executives (represented by let’s say Thomas) have asked you (Sonya) to offer a 1 day delivery option (fast-delivery seems to be mandatory nowadays in e-commerce). You disagree with this solution, and start arguing that according free return would better answer your customer needs. The discussion heats up but fortunately, you are now aware about the PLL pyramids and you are able to move up to the problem level.

2/ From Problem level to Need level

In this new example, you will see that moving up one level (to Problem) is not enough. You need to go one step above to the Need level. The discussion is about offering a pre-ordering solution to order takeaway ahead in restaurants to skip the line.

3/ From Need level to Context level

This example deals with the issue of deferred payment for B2B on an e-commerce website. We will to go to the penultimate level, the context level.

4/ From Context level to Mission level

This last example will also demonstrate that sometimes, you need to go as high as to the company’s mission (and values). This is particularly true for new products that create new habits. The example is taken from my new company (WILL), we don’t know yet if it will work ! But it provides a great example. As you already went through 3 examples, I will try to be more concise.

Tech entrepreneur, Consultant | ex-CPO (Chief Product Officer) at ManoMano | ex Founding Partner at Artefact

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