In learnet, there is an example of the difference between abstract and concrete thinking including how it relates to the use of analogies:
" A concrete thinking adolescent can recognize that a good strategy in football is to make maximal use of the team’s most talented players. An abstract thinking adolescent can recognize that this strategy in football is the same as using ones cognitive strengths in studying for an exam. In general, abstract thinkers are able to perceive analogies and relationships that others may not see and thereby understand higher levels of abstraction."
Abstract thinking and elevator pitch
When thinking about my elevator pitch, I could state it in a way that encapsulates its meaning but doesn´t explain very well, ie. "Information products and services to improve creative thinking" or I could unpacked the idea in such a way that it explains better what I do, even though it doesn´t cover everything I do. Ie. "Workshops to learn and practice tools to generate ideas, solve problems and innovate". And I could add what make me different: "My workshops promote individual thinking to change own protocols, irrational thinking and thinking barriers" and explain how everything started when I was a teenager.
In this sense, abstract thinking can help us to change the way we define a problem and make it more complex or simpler, ie. "How to think" will be more abstract or general than "How to generate ideas". "How to solve a problem" could be seen as a more complex thing to do than "How to improve something". By making it more complex or simpler, we can think about different type of ideas.
Abstract thinking and mission vs problem solving vision
There are some techniques such as visualization, in which we can imagine a problem or a solution and we can try to see, not only images, but also behaviours and thoughts of other people. We can perceive not only images, but sounds, tastes, smells, touch but see ourselves on that situation or people we know or experts talking about it.
We can also see ourselves performing an activity that we don´t feel very confident about, following the steps to do. That could help as a way of mental training, in which you revise the steps to do.
I find very inspiring going to church, as always there are messages, stories, etc. to relate to problems or hobbies I relate to. Last Sunday, one of the readings was about Jonah (the one that was swallowed by a whale for refusing doing what God asked him to do). And in the Gospel of Mark was mentioned "Follow me and I will make you into fishers of men". On one side there are plenty analogies that can evoke ideas related to our present problems or improvements.
We might not have any problem, any worry, but always we can think how to improve something: products, marketing, staff, environment, society.
It is interesting to relate this to abstract thinking because we can elevate the level of abstraction generalizing from "What should I do?" to "What can I do?" or doing it more specific like "What would I like to do?" or "What does God want me to do?"
On one side, changing the level of abstraction can be useful to think about different ideas. On the other side, changing the level of abstraction can help to be more concrete and focus more on an action as we elevate it to the category of mission. "What is God asking me to do?" Or to a category of searching for something "What is God telling me with this reading?"
Vision of the mission. We can think about a global mission, such as "World peace", but at the same time, like the environmental motto "Think globally, act locally", we can focus on a practical thing we can do this month or this week.
Interesting article in Dailygood.org:
Using emergence Emergence to Scale Social Innovation
Interesting video with John Bird: