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Beyond lean and agile: the human touch

Beyond lean and agile: the human touch
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Zinco is the in-house digital design and development agency for Impact, based in Windermere. They have been working with Impact for over 20 years. The team describe themselves as a design and technology collective who work in partnership with organisations in order to solve impactful business problems. An eclectic creative studio, the Zinco team share a passion for combining deliberate design with innovative technology in order to create engaging and purposeful user experiences.

The team of designers and software developers are managed by Hannah Baron, Head of Digital Design and Development, who we recently caught up with to chat all things digital.

Tell us more about your career prior to managing Impact’s in-house digital agency, Zinco?

I've worked in full service digital and design agencies for the last 10 years and have always had a knack for being able to translate complex technical detail into manageable everyday language – a key part of being able to implement change and support digital transformation in any business. I've managed multiple accounts, from small scale website implementations to large scale software development change programmes, with a couple of major rebranding stories along the way. I've managed Zinco for the last two years, in which we have grown from three graphic designers and one website developer to a team of four developers and four graphic/digital designers.
What is it like working as an in-house design agency?

Our team is fully integrated into the world of Impact and we wholeheartedly believe in the power of behavioural change through experiential learning. We care about the environment, we care about people, and we believe in the power of design and technology to change the world – and we do think it needs changing.

What sets us apart as a design agency is our relationship with Impact. We love working in collaboration with great learning design minds whose expertise spans a wide variety of disciplines. We believe that together we can inform and transform our world for a better future.
What is Zinco’s remit?
Our ultimate objective is to integrate design and technology in order to liberate the brilliance of our clients. Our team is made up of graphic and UI/UX designers, developers, programmers and digital ‘wunderkind’. We’re based in a beautiful Arts & Crafts building on the shores of Lake Windermere, but we work with a multitude of local and international clients, including Hayes Garden World, Lakeland Arts Trust and a range of Impact clients, such as Co-op and Sony.

Our services range widely, and include software and app development, website development, logo and brand identity, animations, augmented reality, exhibition and display. Check out our portfolio here:
How do you work well as a team?
We follow a structured, agile approach using the scrum method for ongoing design and development. Scrum is an agile framework for managing knowledge work, with an emphasis on software development. It has been designed to help break the development work into actions that can be completed within time-boxed iterations, called ‘sprints’.  Each sprint lasts for four weeks and is managed by a Scrum Master, who helps track progress and monitor scheduled 15-minute, time-boxed stand-up meetings, called ‘daily scrums’.
Within the scrum method, each sprint is required to deliver a potentially viable new feature or functionality that will enhance the user experience of the product. At the end of each sprint, a sprint review meeting is held. During this meeting, the scrum team shows what they accomplished during the sprint; typically this takes the form of a demo of the new features.
We use a number of online tools to support our working processes, including (but not limited to) Trello, Github, Daily, Creative Suite and Microsoft Teams.
What has been your proudest moment at Zinco?
We are most proud of air – our mobile-first web-based application, designed to support experiential learning online. air delivers Impact programmes at scale and engages participants in a journey using digital technology in a way that no-one else does.
Upon exploring the existing digital learning technology market, we found that there wasn’t anything out there that did what we felt was needed from a piece of learning technology, which is to support a learning process, not just deliver content.
Too much of the learning app market simply provides a window for viewing or interacting with content. It positions the learner in front of a screen in the hope that watching a video or reading a document will transfer the knowledge or insight that they need. We don’t think that works.

So, we decided to have a go ourselves. We sat our best L&D specialists in a room with a band of talented web developers and UX and graphic designers and designed a beautiful interface that works intuitively on a mobile device and provides a rich, fun, challenging and effective learning experience. We launched air to the market in April and have had an overwhelming response to this innovative use of technology in learning.

There are two reasons why air is different. The first is that it delivers Impact, which you can't get using technology anywhere else in the marketplace. The second is that it's not a library of static content (like an LMS), nor is it a collaboration tool (like Teams, Slack or HipChat), and nor is it just a chat tool (like WhatsApp). In other words, it stands apart from other tools on the learning market because it's journey-focused, not content-focused.

We've built something that we believe is intuitive and easy to use, using our point of view on technology in learning to guide us:

  • Learning is the work – In order to achieve an effective, long-lasting and impactful learning experience, it is vital that the learning itself takes place on the job, and our technology needs to respond to that.
  • Letting the learning lead – Technology can’t drive the design of an organisational system, instead it needs to be about the learner. We always start with a custom approach. 
  • Context not content – Technology has to support something that is real, consequential, current, relevant and in partnership with the learner. Clients have built content libraries only to discover that they are not being used. Learning has to be context driven so that it always gives the individual what they need.
  • Process not platform – The arrival of new and emerging technology hasn’t changed how people learn, but there are still lots of new tools flooding the marketplace and confusing the end user. For us, any learning has to be designed and thought through as a process of learning. We employ a highly experiential approach and our app is flexible enough to be able to support and deliver that both at scale and at reach.

How are you approaching the rapidly changing digital landscape?

At Impact we are aware that as we move towards a post-digital era, leaders must begin to look beyond their organisations’ digital transformations. Digital prowess alone will no longer differentiate organisations from their competitors. There is a host of game-changing new technologies positioned to deliver extraordinary new capabilities for businesses, and these technologies will be important catalysts for change in a world in which every industry already has a wealth of digital tools.
So, what are we doing here at Impact? Well we’ve created air and thus solved a learning at scale and reach need for experiential learning online. We are also busy thinking and writing about the power of AR and VR (see our latest article here: Finally, we are climbing the digital maturity curve, moving from scaling and implementing one emerging tech after another, such as Microsoft Teams.

Like what you see? Contact us for a demo of air and a chat about how we can help your organisation to succeed.