Ian Bicking makes some very good points in his post “Users want control” is a shoulder shrug:
Control is what you need when you want something and it won’t happen on its own. But (usually) it’s not control you want, it’s just a means. So when we say users want control over X — their privacy, their security, their data, their history — we are first acknowledging that current systems act against users, but we aren’t proposing any real solution. We’re avoiding even talking about the problems.
I like the framing of the broad concept of “user control” in this very Jobs-to-be-Done way. It’s almost like a safe word to watch out for. Whenever we catch our colleagues (or ourselves!) arguing for giving users more control over something, we should immediately stop ourselves and try to uncover what deeper need the discussion about control might be obfuscating.