Zaana Howard

Knowledge Management, Leadership and Social Media

ZHoward - Sunday best at 5

On Social Media: We come from the knowledge management family rather than marketing – to enable social learning – recognising people learn most and best from conversing and sharing experiences with like minded others.

On Design: Design permeates everything and is laden with a history and a future.

On Leadership: Leadership in this environment of social media and knowledge management is all about recognising and respecting that everybody has a story.

- Zaana

This week I talked about the elements of leadership and had some great traction with a number of Tweeters including Zaana Howard, who was kind enough to not only respond with her own insightful blog post, but was also kind enough to take the time to share with me (and now you) some really valuable insights into not only social media, but also knowledge management, learning  and the importance of story and design.

The shot above is one of Zaana’s own artworks (linocut), and is a self portrait of herself at 5 years old (a photo, fairly sure she’s at least 6 now).¬† The quotes above were my very favourites, and below, you’ll read a perspective on this space like none before.

Who are you, what do you do?

I have been mistakenly called Zanna, Barbara, Howard, Nada and Dana but most often am mistakenly called Zena (followed by Warrior Princess). Some call me a knowledge manager, others a librarian, an artist, a generalist, a designer, a typical Gen Y or a combination of titles. I have been called off the wall, a hippy, worldly, artsy, a forever student, and on occasion been known to be funny. I am mistaken for vegetarian more often than not (although it is my natural inclination to be one) and find it difficult to keep the same haircut for more than a couple of months. I am an Apple supporter (this seems to mean something) and can no longer use non Apple notebooks properly. I talk a lot about going to Sweden and am known for my accessories featuring trees.

In terms of work, I am at CPA Australia in the Knowledge Exchange team working primarily in the social media and online environment to connect our diverse and global membership. We come from the knowledge management family rather than marketing – to enable social learning – recognising people learn most and best from conversing and sharing experiences with like minded others.

What inspires you?

Design – in every aspect, from conception to completion, the people and the stories behind the ideas. Design permeates everything and is laden with a history and a future. At the moment I am particularly inspired by how design and creativity can influence the workplace particularly in the areas of innovation, leadership and organisational effectiveness. Reading much on design thinking, human centred design, and play in the workplace and following the likes of IDEO and Dan Pink.

Biggest lesson you’ve learned to date?

Look up! We so often look down to see the immediate steps we are taking, and look ahead to see what is coming up but so seldom look up to what is happening above us (both physically and metaphorically). How often do we walk through the city and look at all the tops of the buildings rather than the window shopfronts? There is a lot of history above the windows and much that can be learnt and deciphered. Some of my best discovery experiences have been when I have looked up – it’s amazing what you can learn about the environment you are in and how different the world appears – even after you look down again.

Do you think Knowledge Management and Social Media are complimentary? What role does Leadership play?

Definitely. Knowledge management is very much about making what people know visible and enabling the transfer of that knowledge to others (thinking of Charles Leadbeater saying ‘we are no longer what we own, we are what we share’). Social media tools allow people to connect far more easily than ever before. They provide mechanisms for people to discover one another, meet and discuss their knowledge and experiences in the online environment (which may also be carried over in real life). The conversational and informal aspects of social media allows this visibility and transfer to occur more naturally online – with a much larger and diverse audience – enhancing the possibilities for social learning and new knowledge creation.

Leadership in this environment of social media and knowledge management is all about recognising and respecting that everybody has a story. Assume nothing. We ask so few questions and so need to value people individually, discover their story and recognise the potential in everyone. When you see this in action – where someone’s potential is brought to the fore – and what can happen it is truly inspiring and results directly from great leadership.

One piece of advice you have for anyone interested in leadership?

Observe, question, learn – the best lessons are in observing both terrible and amazing leaders and discovering what leadership attributes you aspire to and the kind of leader you want be (and just as importantly what you don’t want to be).

Jye Smith is currently the Digital Strategist for Weber Shandwick Australia. Ranked in B&Ts 30 Under 30, he's a regular keynote speaker and workshop facilitator who specialises in digital strategy, social media marketing, and change management.

There are 4 comments for this article
  1. Pingback: Youth Marketing, Gen Y, Social Media | 3 Lessons in Gen Y -A Digital Perspective
  2. Pingback: 2009: digital, social and life -A Digital Perspective
  3. Pingback: » How to be a good leader - A Digital Perspective
  4. Kerry Borg at 8:39 am

    I miss working with Zaana. She is one of the best Gen Y supervisors I have ever worked with and come to know, sharing her creativeness outlet not only in leadership but with great soul.Funny yet such a pleasure to know her.