The #ICE Method (Idea, Concept, Execution)

Hey everyone,

This is an idea from the book “Creative Strategy and the Business of Design” by Douglas Davis. And I manage it with tags in Obsidian.

It’s a technique to distill specific actions from your observations and insights from your notes, and put them, to use in actionable ways.

This is a pretty simple but useful concept, so I thought I’d share it. I honestly try to keep my PKM techniques pretty simple. Using tags this way, I can write out these tags in any software that I’m using, or even in my paper notebooks, until I can transcribe them to Obsidian.

#OBSERVATION - When I notice something interesting, I use this tag to make a note of it. It is like using a keyword as a highlight.

#INSIGHT - What is an insight about this observation? Also you can have multiple insights from one observation.

#CONCEPT - What are some ideas for how this insight could be put to use? You can also have multiple concepts from one insight.

#EXECUTION - What specific steps can you take to execute on the concept? This becomes a list of specific tasks you can do in support of your projects and concepts. You can also have multiple executions from a single concept, or by combining concepts.

Example from the book:

#OBSERVATION - In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers, he asserts that it takes at least 10000 hours practice to become a world-class master at something.

#INSIGHT - If you look at this from the beginning writer’s perspective, someone just starting out will need to overcome a great deal of insecurity, a mountain of rewrites, and the temptation to quit.

#CONCEPT - Behind every great speech, book, or script are a ton of revisions, and though people are familiar with the finished versions of speeches, novels, or screenplays, new writers (our target) are less familiar with the process it takes to get to great.

#EXECUTION - Introduce new writers to the development process by showing the potential phases well-known lines went through to get what we all know and recognize.

Example from my vault:

#OBSERVATION - One of the animators on a project I’m working on keeps asking the producers to see a final rendered result from the game engine. He has to wait for them to get his work, render it, and upload a movie, with 8 hours difference in time zone.

#INSIGHT - I’m a tech artist. This is the kind of [[Pipeline Tools]] stuff I should be concerned with.

#CONCEPT - It would be interesting to make some kind of a tool that the animator could use, to upload their animation, and automatically build+deliver the result back to them without anyone needing to manually do it.

#EXECUTION - First step: Install [[Unreal Engine]].

#EXECUTION - Begin researching how I would code such a tool, or host the files ([[Plastic SCM]]?).


I love how People are trying new things that suit their workflow. I think this is the most generic way for new Ideas to arise in a community.

This is such a great concept, I’m looking forward to trying it out :slightly_smiling_face:

Out of curiosity, do you keep each #ICE entry in its own note or do you work through them in a daily note for instance?

Wondering about recall/search at a later date :thinking:

Right now, I keep it very simple. I keep the notes inline inside my notes. And I saved searches with the tags. One day, I might get fancier with a plugin or Python script to scrape all the Execution tags.

Once something is listed as Execution, if I actually do plan to do it, I move it into my task manager and/or calendar. For the tags inside Obsidian, this is all still just a thinking tool for me at that stage, not a schedule or commitment.

1 Like

That makes sense, it’s a good idea to keep things simple so it doesn’t become a chore to do :slightly_smiling_face:

Thanks for sharing!!

Very interesting idea, thanks for sharing it. I am going to take look into this book for sure