What is the QDI Principle?

What is the QDI Principle and why should you use it?

If there’s a common thread in the history of great achievements, it’s curiosity.

Our ability to ask and seek answers to searching questions has driven 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. Today, as we enter the Fifth Industrial Revolution and combine artificial and human intelligence, curiosity is as essential for unlocking our potential as it’s ever been.

The QDI Principle provides a methodology for stimulating and harnessing curiosity, and training it on what matters most. How? By mobilising two powerful but underexploited tools: the question and the written report.

Is the QDI Principle right for you?

Five core beliefs underpin the QDI Principle and unite the empowered community who use it. We believe that…

We win when we harness the power of our people’s ideas, knowledge, and insight.
We’d take decisions that are better for us and society if we had the full picture.
If we moved faster we’d make more of our opportunities.
The ability to think critically and exercise judgement is key to our success.
The right words, in the right measure, will channel high-quality thinking into action.
How does the QDI Principle work?

Follow the 8 tenets of QDI to harness the power of the question and the written report — and convert critical thinking into action.

QDI Tenet - Crystallise

#1 - Crystallise

Write to strengthen your thinking and make it ready to share.

Committing thoughts to paper does more than structure or shape them. It helps tighten the logic and rigour. It helps uncover flaws in arguments and gaps in evidence. And it opens the thinking to scrutiny and improvement.

Ask yourself…

Having committed pen to paper, does my thinking stand up to inspection? And how can I make it stronger?

QDI Tenet - Resonate

#2 - resonate

Use audience questions to structure your content into logical sections.

All effective communication is a dialogue between two minds. To create this dialogue in written communication, follow the series of questions arising in the mind of the reader. Using these questions as a structure breaks up the material into a sequence that flows and is easier to absorb.

Ask yourself…

What questions will be firing in the mind of my reader? And have I provided meaningful insight in response to each one?

QDI Tenet - Magnetise

#3 - Magnetise

Draw your reader in with a clear ask, and say why it matters.

Be clear about the purpose of your paper and how it relates to the big strategic aims or issues that your reader will care about. And what input are you seeking from the reader? Stating these intentions encourages the audience to sit forward and read with critical interest, and helps you get value in return.

Ask yourself…

Have I spelt out why the topic of my paper matters? And have I made a clear ask of my reader, to direct the value that I would like back in response?

QDI Tenet - Invert

#4 - Invert

Start with the conclusion before sharing your workings.

Your reader needs to know upfront where your report is headed — especially the time-poor reader. It is in the paper that follows that you explain how you got there, satisfying them that the conclusion you presented is the right one.

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

Ask yourself…

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

QDI Tenet - Earth

#5 - earth

People back the writer. Use human phrasing to read smart and confident.

Business writers often hide behind technical jargon, formal language, and the passive voice. In settings like a board, the writer might assume this is expected. But to the reader it comes across as unconfident, evasive, and unwilling to take accountability. Conversely, when the writer owns the message (whether it’s good news or bad) they display the leadership qualities everyone is looking for.

And write like a human, not a robot, to keep your reader engaged.

Ask yourself…

Is this my voice, and am I owning it?

QDI Tenet - Vector

#6 - vector

Only use facts that shift the audience’s thinking and have a concrete “So what?”

A paper should be a taxi (taking the reader somewhere), not a skip (to fill with endless detail). Too much business reporting is bogged down in operational nitty-gritty. Facts can be powerful. But only if they prove or illustrate an important point on the journey. Otherwise, they are a diversion.

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?

QDI Tenet - Xray

#7 - Xray

Leave varnish in the tin. Balance your arguments and be ruthlessly honest.

No important stakeholder wants to be corralled. When a report seems too partial or one-sided, the reader will fight against its conclusions. When the writing is open, balanced, honest, and transparent, they are more likely to take it on board and support it.

And as a seasoned board member once said, “Business is never plain sailing. If you can’t share the bad news, you're either hiding it from me or you don’t have a handle on your business.”

Ask yourself…

What’s the one thing on my mind that I’m scared to raise? Can I build trust in my reader and get more value back by sharing a more candid picture?

QDI Tenet - Catalyst

#8 - Catalyse

Spread this way of working to build collective intelligence.

When a whole organisation communicates this way, it’s transformative; resulting in greater agility and speed, and smarter decisions.

Every report and recommendation is a potential role model. It can encourage others to write in a way that is rigorous, easy-to-digest, and far-reaching in its implications.

Ask yourself…

What can I do to help others think and work in this way?

Related resources

Practical resources and events to help you apply the 8 tenets of the QDI Principle.