Abstraction’s power is to allow the wielder to represent huge amounts of information in a single object. Layers of abstraction allow the entire universe to be summarized by a single node, on top of a hierarchy of lower level representations. The tool is dangerous, making ideas inaccessible and hiding distorted information. It’s foundational to the way that we think. This book is about how Abstraction operates. How it allows us to create, to analogize, and to build knowledge out of information.


One powerful generative motion is to take a whole and divide it into its sub-parts. Once cut up, the sub-parts can be recombined, solved individually, maximized over, or even recursively decomposed.

Idea Lists

Idea lists are simple. Pick a prompt, create 10 ideas in 10 minutes, dropping quality if you have to.

Questioning Assumptions & Reframing

Our minds implicitly assume a solution space. This solution space may not be optimal. We can reframe the solution space by discovering and unthinking our assumptions.


Recombination is a fabulous generator of ideas. Take existing concepts and ask how are they related, how can they be combined. Walk away with new conceptions.


Every idea has been created by some mental motion. We can generalize these motions into generators. We can gain insight into these mental motions by watching them carefully, noting them, and running them systematically.

Judgement / Triage / Prioritization

Cut to your very best plans and ideas to prepare for execution.

Become Generative

By decomposing the processes that generate your most valuable thoughts and breakthroughs, you can design a powerful conceptual toolkit aligned with your current creative style.