WHAT I’VE BEEN READING: Creativity, Inc. by Edwin Catmull and Amy Wallace

This book, by the founder of Pixar Animation, is not directly about managing conflict. It is an inspiring lesson about leadership and creativity. But these things are always related.

Catmull acknowledges that any organisation will always have problems (conflict is one) and that many of them are hidden from view. He explains that leaders have to work hard to uncover these problems, even if doing so makes us uncomfortable. This is so true of conflict. Many leaders plead ignorance: “I had no idea this conflict was going on!” but did not work very hard to look out for the signs of workplace conflict, and did not set up a culture in which conflict could be explicitly raised and managed.

He stresses the importance of candour (a less controversial word than “honesty” – nobody wants to be called dishonest). He describes a number of different approaches to creating a workplace in which people are actively encouraged to be candid with one another, including “brains trust”, “notes sessions” and “post mortems”.

Catmull says “It is management’s job to figure out how to help others see conflict as healthy” – not how to resist it, but how to uncover it, recover from it, and learn from it.

The book is inspiring, challenging, and a fascinating look behind the scenes of making animated films.

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