This week, we begin with a set of distinct voices — a pair of service designers in London and the MIT Sloan Management Review — echoing astonishingly similar thinking.

You’ve likely stumbled across something similar to @rosebotanic and @lily_dart’s talk on Guerilla Tactics in Usability Testing (8 min) before, but it makes some rather significant points that bear repeating, including this:

Focus on insights (quotes, actions, positive and negative findings) over conclusions.

Leslie Brokaw’s post on The Easy Industry Research Tool Hardly Anybody Uses (2 min) is equally succinct, highlighting the under-utilization of Google Trends as a tool for low-fidelity research. She points to a well-circulated example in the product naming space, but we can think of few spaces in which time spent in the Trends environment doesn’t deliver fresh insights and areas for exploration.

Ben Kay on response times, and the epidemic of gut reactions to creative experience (2 min):

at least 90% of the ads I’ve shown, been shown, or watched being shown have elicited an opinion within ten minutes. And if it’s been condemned that decision is almost always final.

That’s true, of course, well-beyond pure advertising. The flip side of that coin is that customers and prospects are increasingly drawing conclusions about the experiences we deliver within the same split-second frameworks.

For all of the usability fanboys and fangirls of the world, we give you Jen McGinn and Dr. Ana Ramirez Chang’s article in the Journal of Usability Studies on deploying RITE + Krug (16 min) — the Rapid Iterative Test and Evaluation in combination with Steve Krug’s traditional usability testing models — for use with agile development teams.

Via Russell Davies’ blog, this Bridgespan interview with Roger Martin (5 min) is absolutely essential reading, if only for gems like this:

I would argue that 90 percent of the strategic plans I’ve seen in my life are really more accurately described as budgets with prose. Lots of prose at the front end of a budget. In some sense, that’s a better budget than simply a budget that has only numbers. But it’s still a budget; it isn’t a strategy.

The truth hurts, don’t it?

A wildly provocative piece this week from Esko Kilpi on the nature of modern knowledge and labor workers, and their relationship to the organization (3 min):

We need to study the intersection of corporate strategy and personal narrative. Work needs whole human beings. People who are more fully present, people with responsibility and ownership.

Andy Whitlock of MxM has written quite a smart piece on the trouble with RFPs (2 min) — and why, perhaps, they should migrate to requests for workshops. Your authors don’t entirely disagree, but believe that the trouble with RFPs is even more profound, namely: they tend to assume the solution to the stated problem has already been identified.

Matt Yurow in a well-circulated piece (4 min) on the responsive design conundrum on Medium:

I don’t think it’s fair to assume that the same navigation, advertising or purchase tactics that work on desktop will be nearly as effective on a smaller screen.

I believe publishers must abandon this one-size-fits-all approach, and start thinking about mobile web as a uniquely mobile experience.

The Government Digital Service team cannot lose: while brand after brand is declaring itself to be a platform, Mike Bracken the GDS outlines in spectacular detail (3 min) the ways in which the UK’s digital services office already is.

Aaron Carroll has a wonderful piece this week on The Incidental Economist on using meta-analyses to avoid cherry-picking data (4 min) that simply supports an already espoused point of view.

Now why would you want to go do that? Considered nuance garners far fewer retweets.

After you’ve read Chris Butler’s piece on distributed publishing (see above), give Neil Perkin’s related post revisiting the idea of distributed and destination thinking (4 min) a read.

Finally, buried in a lengthy — though quite worth-reading — interview with designer Michael Bierut (28 min) for The Great Discontent is this gem on what he learned from his mentor Massimo Vignelli on client relationships:

When potential clients came in, they took one look around the office and knew whether or not it was the right place for them. He didn’t get hired by accident too often: people knew what they were getting into when they hired Massimo Vignelli. The advantage was that his client list was full of people who he was interested in. He was legitimately engaged with their businesses and the cultural context they worked in.

Swing your swing, folks. Until next week.