I'm trying to achieve the same clarity for my hexcrawling game. I wrote about this earlier, but sometimes a picture is worth 1000 words.
Basically, if you can't figure out a problem yourself, you'll have to find an expert who can give you information. If you can't persuade him or her to help you, you may have the perform a side quest.
Meanwhile, factions are making moves "off camera." This diagram helps me estimate how often a faction move should occur. If the PC's can make a successful knowledge roll, they should should be rewarded by outpacing an enemy faction. If the PC's can't persuade an expert to help and have to perform a side quest, they should be outpaced themselves.
Skills are written in blue. As you can see, exploration and gather information are critically important, whereas influence and search are used less often. Yesterday's playtesting revealed that search needs a more interesting fail state than "you don't find the clue," but otherwise the structure is working as intended. Soon I'll add faction moves and it will get very interesting.
As an aside, rolling a 1 (on a d6) when you gather information may draw unwanted faction attention. Players were far more careful about what questions they asked and where they asked them than I anticipated. It was fun.