What is Question Driven Insight and why does it matter?

If there’s a common thread in mankind’s greatest achievements, it’s curiosity driven by our ability to question, bringing to life the discoveries, inventions and experiences that have shaped our world.

On the flip side, when dissecting our biggest mistakes we find a lack of curiosity at their core.

Question Driven Insight (QDI) puts questioning into the heart of your business. It is a methodology for asking great questions, extracting critical insights and for communicating them to drive action.

How? By harnessing a powerful tool you may not be expecting – the board and management report.


Methodology beliefs

Is the QDI Principle the right methodology for me?

Three core beliefs underpin the QDI Principle and unite the community who use it. The belief that...

  • We win when we harness the power of all our people’s ideas and insight
  • We take decisions that benefit us & society when we have the full picture
  • We need to move faster to make more of our opportunities
When and how should I use the QDI Principle?

When you come to write any board or management paper follow the 9 tenets of QDI outlined below to ensure it lands well and drives action.
Select a tenet to find out more.

Critical Thinking
to react & adapt at pace
1. Tackle the tough questions

Questions are powerful. And the right ones get you to the crux of what matters faster.

Seek out the questions that are difficult to answer, and likely to surface uncomfortable truths. These are the questions you need to tackle head-on, and which will add the most value to your thinking.

Ask yourself...

Have I answered the difficult questions? Am I shying away from any uncomfortable truths?

2. Leave no stone unturned

Cast your eye over the questions you plan to tackle to identify gaps in your thinking, then fill them.

Your questions should have a sense of completeness to them, either as a flow of logic (What are the options? What do I suggest, and why? What do we need to do next?) or as parts of a whole (What went well? What went badly?).

Time invested in plugging gaps will deliver more robust and rigorous thinking.

Ask yourself...

Do my questions cover all the angles? Have I thought about all of my stakeholders, the risks as well as opportunities, and the internal and external contexts?

3. Charge thinking with insight

Challenge yourself to draw meaning from the information you’re using by asking “so what?”, and “what needs to be done differently as a result?”

Two simple questions will draw this meaning out - and provide vital fuel for your thinking.

Ask yourself...

Have I pulled out the “So what?” from the information I have presented? And is it actionable insight that will make a difference?

Great Communication
to align & inspire action
4. Your voice builds trust

Business writers often hide behind the passive voice. To the reader this comes across as unconfident and unwilling to take accountability.

But when the writer owns the message (whether it’s good news or bad), and shares what they think and feel with their reader, they display the leadership qualities everyone is looking for.

Ask yourself...

Is this my voice, and am I owning it? Can I build trust in my reader and get more value back by sharing a more candid picture?

5. The content is easy to follow

Writing, like a diamond, sparkles more when it’s cut.

To catch and hold your reader’s eye, shed long sentences, technical jargon, and complex words.

And organise your thinking under no more than 5 headings - the human brain (even the CEO’s) has to work too hard to deal with more.

Ask yourself...

Have I used simple words and short sentences, and explained the acronyms and jargon I’ve used? Do I have 5 or fewer main headings?

6. Key messages crystal clear

In the military, where communication can be a matter of life and death they call this the “BLUF”: putting the Bottom Line Up Front.

The principle holds true for a time-poor business audience. Rip up the rule book you were given at school and start with the conclusion before sharing your workings.

Ask yourself...

Are my key messages clear to the reader and summarised on page 1 of my report?

Focus on What Matters
to deliver vision, values & goals
7. Purpose & vision drive the ‘why?’

When everyone is pulling in the same direction, the multiplier effect is powerful.

But it's easier said than done. And so its important to keep asking 'why' you are doing whatever you are doing, to make sure it lies in service of the overall purpose and vision of the company.

Ask yourself...

How do I and my team help to deliver the vision of the company? How are we performing against this? And how will my proposals support it?

8. Strategy & plans drive the ‘what?’

Management guru Stephen Covey talks about the activity trap - climbing the ladder of success only to discover its leaning against the wrong wall.

By keeping your strategy and plans front of mind and by regularly questioning the link between what you're doing and what you intended to be doing, you'll save yourself from wasted work.

Ask yourself...

How do our plans and proposals support the overall strategy of the firm? And how have we performed against it?

9. Culture & values drive the ‘how?’

What makes the culture and values of your company worth more than the t-shirts they are printed on?

It's when we judge our plans and performance against them too. So give life to them in your reports.

Ask yourself...

How well is your team performing against not just your commercial goals but your culture and values too? How do your plans and proposals impact the style of organisation you are trying to build?


Scaling up

Embed the QDI Principle at scale to be an agent of change

When critical thinking and great communication skills are present at every level of an organisation, they’re powerful.

When those skills are focused on delivering its vision, strategy and goals too, they’re game-changing.

That’s why we’ve developed Lucia - our AI-powered platform that embeds critical thinking, great communication, and a focus on what matters, into the fabric of your team.

Find out more
Apply the QDI Principle

Practical resources and events to help you apply the tenets of Question Driven Insight