Prep Time:
Time to run:
30 min

Abstraction laddering template

Reconsidering a problem statement by broadening or narrowing its focus.

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Discover a powerful framework for refocusing problem statements and unlocking creative problem-solving with Mural's abstraction laddering template. This template challenges personal preconceptions and builds a shared understanding, providing a clear direction for problem-solving.

The abstraction laddering template helps you:

  • Broaden or narrow the focus of a problem statement
  • Challenge assumptions and uncover new perspectives
  • Foster collaboration and shared understanding among team members
  • Drive innovative solutions by asking "how" and "why"
  • Provides a structured approach to problem-solving

How to use the abstraction laddering template:

1. Start by clearly defining the problem statement you want to address

Begin by identifying the specific challenge or issue that needs to be solved or addressed. Clearly articulate the problem statement to provide a clear focus for the abstraction laddering process.

2. Begin by asking "how" and "why" to challenge assumptions and explore different levels of abstraction

Encourage participants to ask probing questions such as "How does this problem manifest?" and "Why is this problem occurring?" This helps challenge assumptions and uncover underlying factors contributing to the problem.

3. Use the template to ladder up or down the levels of abstraction, broadening or narrowing the focus as needed

Start with the initial problem statement and consider broader or more abstract concepts related to the problem. Then, ladder down to more specific details and factors that contribute to the problem. This process helps explore different perspectives and uncover potential solutions.

4. Continuously iterate and refine the problem statement based on insights gained through the abstraction laddering process

As you move through the abstraction laddering process, continuously refine and iterate the problem statement based on the insights and new perspectives gained. This ensures that the problem statement accurately reflects the underlying issues and provides a clear direction for problem-solving.

5. Collaborate with team members to generate innovative solutions based on the refined problem statement

Engage in collaborative discussions and brainstorming sessions with team members to generate innovative solutions based on the refined problem statement. The shared understanding developed through the abstraction laddering process helps drive creativity and fosters a collaborative problem-solving environment.

Tips for running the abstraction laddering exercise:

  • Encourage open-mindedness and curiosity among participants
  • Foster a safe and inclusive environment for sharing ideas and perspectives
  • Emphasize the importance of active listening and building upon each other's ideas
  • Allow for flexibility and adaptability as the problem statement evolves throughout the exercise

How to create a Abstraction laddering template

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Abstraction laddering template frequently asked questions

What is the purpose of abstraction laddering?

How does abstraction laddering help in problem-solving?

Can abstraction laddering be used for both broad and specific problem statements?

How can I ensure effective collaboration during the abstraction laddering exercise?

LUMA Institute

Template by LUMA Institute


LUMA offers acclaimed in-person training, custom innovation programs, and a unique digital platform (LUMA Workplace), used by innovators in over 70 countries. Leading organizations around the globe rely on the LUMA System of Innovation — a practical, flexible, and scalable approach to Human-Centered Design.

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Mural is the only platform that offers both a shared workspace and training on the LUMA System™, a practical way to collaborate that anyone can learn and apply.