An abstraction ladder is one of the most powerful tools anyone can learn. This exercise provides a great framework to guide thinking as it helps us put problems in context. You can use an abstraction ladder when you’re trying to figure out where to start with a big problem, or use it with more narrow problems to try and figure out how to gain more traction.
To create an abstraction ladder, you have to start with what you know. With your team, agree on a clear topic to explore. If the topic is more abstract, it belongs higher on the ladder. More concrete topics move down the ladder. Determine where your topic fits best on the ladder.
Next, examine your topic and move it up or down from its starting point on the ladder. You can explore your topic further by moving it. You might even skip to one end of the ladder and fill the other steps in later!
Abstraction ladders can help you to put your thoughts and ideas into a bigger context, allowing us to see what the patterns are, what system is embedded within, and see concretely how things can play out in a specific context. Have fun moving your ideas up and down the ladder!