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The Innovator's Toolkit: 50+ Techniques for Predictable and Sustainable Organic Growth, 2nd Edition by Neil DeCarlo, Philip Samuel, David Silverstein

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Technique 26

Structured Abstraction

Guide your innovation using 40 proven principles.

 

Structured abstraction is used to resolve a technical contradiction—two variables that are in conflict with each other. For example, you want to produce a car with more horsepower (A), but doing so entails a loss of fuel efficiency (B). You want to improve critical system factor A, but the actions involved in doing that cause factor B to degrade, and you need to avoid the trade-off.

The Structured Abstraction technique comes in handy when you've identified a functional contradiction that stands in the way of an innovation—and when other ideation techniques have fallen short. Because structured abstraction is deeply grounded in science, engineering, and the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ), it's best to seek the help of an expert when using this technique.

You'll also need a copy of the book Matrix 2003: Updating the TRIZ Contradiction Matrix to apply this technique. See the Resources at the end of this chapter for specifics about where to get the book.

Although this technique has been available and used for about 50 years, none of its inventors gave it a formal name. Most in the TRIZ field refer to this technique as the contradiction matrix, because the matrix is where all the research comes together and is displayed for use by innovators. We obviously prefer the name structured abstraction because it gets to the heart of what the innovator is doing as he or she applies this technique: ...

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