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Progressive Abstraction

Background: Does not start with the search for a solution to a problem, but refines the search for a solution. It is aimed at opening up possibly provisional problem definitions to more fundamental and far-reaching solutions.

Goal: By gradually moving away from a problem definition, new perspectives on a problem are to be opened up and novel approaches to solutions are to be promoted. 

Approach: (Example modified after An initial problem is considered (parking space shortage) and suggestions for solutions are sought (first level solution: more parking spaces). 1st level of abstraction: "what is actually important? (Answer: means of transport) 2. level of abstraction: "what is actually important" (mobility) 3. level of abstraction: "what is actually important" (time autonomy) 4. level of abstraction: "what does it actually depend on?" (answer: mobility) (independence). Each level of abstraction produces new approaches to solutions (1. sharing; 2. local public transport (ÖPNV), bicycle; 3. flexitime models, longer opening hours; 4. home office, expansion of delivery services, last mile).

Advantage: Offers plenty of room for new and further development of processes and products.

Disadvantage: Repeated abstraction can lead to alienation from the problem and generate useless solutions. Requires strong moderation and experienced idea finders to create meaningful abstractions. Under these conditions the method can be very promising.

Further link: Example: