This week’s blog centers around my new book, Orchestrating Conflict: Case Studies in Catholic School Leadership.  I hope to explain why I wrote it, why I think it’s valuable, and why I think you should read it.

Over the past few years, I’ve seen friends in Catholic education endure some really difficult situations.  As the pressure on keeping enrollments at sustainable levels have reached critical stages, the moral quandaries have seemingly become more difficult.  How does one prepare for the kinds of conflicts which can divide a school community when we can least afford any division?  Or, perhaps better, how do we learn from the experience of other Catholic school leaders as they’ve navigated these troubled waters?

A couple of years ago, I read a book on deliberate practice entitled Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson & Robert Pool.  It inspired me to begin thinking about how we could apply deliberate practice principles to forming Catholic school leaders.  I started writing scenarios, then some of them became case studies, and before I knew it, I had a book proposal!

I finished the book last fall and it’s now published.  Orchestrating Conflict: Case Studies in Catholic School Leadership is now available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  I believe the book will enrich your understanding of the conflicts in our Catholic school communities and will help stakeholders navigate those controversies.

The case study method and deliberate practice—involving a systematic method of analyzing and reflecting on conflicts—will help Catholic school leaders to meet the challenges of Catholic school leadership as they face a myriad of conflicts and controversies which are dividing many school communities.  Inside are twelve case studies, a method for learning from these controversies, and an appendix full of other potential scenarios for further study.  The case studies cover topics that are controversial now in Catholic schools and reveal the conflicts between different factions in Catholic schools.

The book suggests paying attention to the particulars in each situation and orchestrating the conflicts between community and policy.  The title came from Ron Heifetz who suggested we need to spend time on the balcony as well as on the dance floor, orchestrating and acting simultaneously.  We need to talk about the controversies and this book allows for leaders to explore ways to explore ways to orchestrate conflict.