When people look at things at a different level of abstraction, it may lead to friction even though they agree in essence. For example when an executive said the one requirement for a new system was that ‘the new system should do what the old system did’, developers lamented that it wasn’t a requirement because they couldn’t code to it. Truth is, it was a requirement, albeit a very high level one, but it also needed to be broken down into much smaller discrete requirements that could be coded. The difference in level of abstraction created the anxiety and friction.

Abstraction and elaboration is a tool that allows you to better identify and cater to the needs of people you’re working with. You may think someone doesn’t understand something when they simply understand it at a more abstract level. Different people look at different topics in different ways.