The Decision Stack: Unveiling the Power of Principles and Effective Learning Techniques

Aviral Vaid

Aviral Vaid

May 13, 20243 min read


The Decision Stack: Unveiling the Power of Principles and Effective Learning Techniques


In the fast-paced world we live in, making sound decisions and retaining valuable knowledge are essential skills. In this article, we will explore the concepts of "The Decision Stack" and "The Brutal Truth About Reading" to uncover the interconnectedness of principles and effective learning techniques. By understanding how these concepts complement each other, we can enhance our decision-making abilities and optimize our learning potential.

The Power of Principles:

Principles serve as guiding lights that illuminate the path towards our goals and aspirations. They act as a reflection of our vision and strategy, providing answers to the fundamental questions of "How are we going to build this?" and "Why are we building this?" Good principles have the remarkable ability to transform our values into actionable steps, creating a shared responsibility among team members.

Creating Principles from the Bottom Up:

Principles should not solely be the product of top-level decision-making. In fact, they can be best formulated by involving the entire team. By utilizing retrospectives, a platform for discussing ongoing debates and trade-offs, valuable principles can emerge. These discussions shed light on the trade-offs we frequently encounter, the recent decisions we have made, and the areas where we have chosen to say "no." Incorporating these insights into our principles ensures that they are grounded in real-world experiences and resonate with the entire team.

Creating Principles from the Top Down:

While involving the team in principle creation is crucial, it is equally important to reinforce our strategy through top-level decision-making. By articulating acceptable trade-offs as principles, we align our actions with our overarching strategy. Identifying the trade-offs that will contribute to the success of our strategy and defining what we are willing to sacrifice to achieve it allows us to maintain focus and clarity.

The Brutal Truth About Reading:

In the pursuit of knowledge, reading is an invaluable tool. However, the brain has a tendency to forget information more readily than it remembers it. This phenomenon is known as the "leaky vessel" effect. To counteract this natural inclination, we must adopt effective note-taking techniques.

Sharing to Remember:

One effective technique for retaining knowledge is sharing what we learn. When we explain concepts or insights to others, we solidify our understanding and make it more memorable. However, as time passes, the initial excitement to share diminishes. It is crucial to maintain the habit of sharing, as it not only benefits others but also reinforces our own learning.

The Value of Knowledge:

The total value of knowledge is determined by two factors: frequency of use and its value when applied. We often underestimate the value of what we call "Titanium Knowledge" – knowledge that may not have immediate practical use but is essential for long-term growth. It is challenging to gauge the worth of being marginally better at prioritizing for the next decade. However, this type of knowledge accumulates and compounds over time, leading to exponential growth.

Actionable Advice:

1. Encourage regular retrospectives within your team to identify recurring debates and trade-offs. These discussions can unearth valuable principles that align with your vision and strategy.

2. Embrace the habit of sharing what you learn with others. By verbalizing your understanding, you solidify your knowledge and contribute to the growth of those around you.

3. Recognize the value of Titanium Knowledge. Invest time and effort in acquiring knowledge that may not have immediate practical use but can yield significant long-term benefits.


By integrating the principles of "The Decision Stack" and the learning techniques outlined in "The Brutal Truth About Reading," we can enhance our decision-making abilities and optimize our learning potential. By creating principles from both top-level and bottom-up approaches, we ensure that our values are actionable and aligned with our overall strategy. Additionally, by adopting effective note-taking techniques and regularly sharing our knowledge, we combat the brain's natural tendency to forget. Remember, knowledge is a powerful asset that grows with us over time, so let us embrace the journey of continuous learning and decision-making.


  1. "the Decision Stack", (Glasp)
  2. "The Brutal Truth About Reading: If You Don’t Take Notes Right, You’ll Forget Nearly Everything", (Glasp)

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