What distinguishes great leaders isn’t that they are first-rate at solving problems, but that they are first-rate at solving the right problems. Most breakthroughs do not begin at the moment of idea conception; rather, they begin the moment the problem is framed in such a way as to allow the concept to emerge.
Abstraction Laddering provides a template for considering a given challenge statement at different levels of focus. When you are seeking more visionary solutions, it can help to step back and look at the issue more broadly. Moving up the ladder by asking Why? allows you to expand the scope of your inquiry.
On the other hand, when your scope is so broad that you don’t even know how to get started, moving down the ladder helps to tighten your focus. By asking How?, the problem is framed more concretely, giving you a more specific challenge to explore.