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SOAR: Building Strengths-Based Strategy

About the authors

Jacqueline M. Stavros (Jackie) has 20 years of leadership, strategy, strategic planning, organization development and change, marketing, and international experience. Jackie is DBA Program Chair and Associate Professor for the Graduate College of Management, Lawrence Technological University where she teaches in the Master and Doctoral programs: Leading Change, Strategic Management, Organization Development, Qualitative Research Design, and Leadership. She integrates strengths-based, whole system, and sustainability concepts and practices such as Appreciative Inquiry (AI) and SOAR into her research, teaching, training, and consulting work. Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is the art and practice of asking questions that strengthen a person’s or system’s capacity to apprehend, anticipate, and heighten positive potential. SOAR is a strengths-based strategic thinking, strategy formulation and planning framework that allows an organization to construct its future through collaboration and a whole system approach. SOAR stands for: Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, and Results. She uses strengths-based whole system approaches to work with individuals, teams, divisions, and organizations to build dynamic relationships and co-create and facilitate strategic change initiatives.
 
Her research interests are focused in the positive theories and practices of organization development and change, strategy, effective organizational leadership, sustainable development/sustainability, and appreciative approaches to inquiry, relationship building, and social construction. She is also involved in Business as an Agent of World Benefit to bring business and society together to create agendas that focus on the triple bottom line (people, planet, and profits).  Jackie co-authored a paper, “Cultivating a Positive Culture Using Appreciative Inquiry”. This paper won the best OD Case Study in 2004 at the Organization Development Institute. An updated article on her dissertation, “Capacity Building: Using an Appreciative Approach to Enhance Organizational Performance” won the North American Management Society best Nonprofit Paper Award for 2008. She has over 15 years experience in e-learning from course and curriculum design and development to teaching online. She has taught and guest lectured at Davenport University, Madonna University, University of Michigan, Walsh College, Lansing Community College, Schoolcraft College, Illinois State University, Oakland University, Benedictine University, University of Detroit – Mercy, and Michigan State University.
 
She has co-authored many books, book chapters, and articles. Books include: Practicing Organization Development: A Guide for Leading Change, Third Edition (with William J. Rothwell and Roland Sullivan), Thin Book of SOAR: Building Strengths-Based Strategy (with Gina Hinrichs), The First Appreciative Inquiry Handbook: for Leaders of Change (with David Cooperrider and Diana Whitney), and Dynamic Relationships: Unleashing the Power of Appreciative Inquiry in Daily Living (with Cheri Torres).She recently completed a new book chapter on SOAR: “Positive Strategy: Creating and Sustaining Strengths-based Strategy that SOARs and Performs” (with Lynn Wooten) in a new book Positive Organizational Scholarship – Second Edition by Oxford University Press. Other book chapters on SOAR include Innovative Approaches to Global Sustainability on “SOAR from the Mediocrity of Status Quo to the Heights of Sustainable Development” and “SOAR: A New Approach to Strategic Thinking and Planning” in The Change Handbook. She has also edited several books in appreciative inquiry, change, organization development, and social construction.

Today, she works with executives, managers, staff and line teams, and organizations’ stakeholders to collaboratively and creatively help them get organized and focused for profitable growth. Through executive coaching and whole system small and large scale change methods, she helps organizations identify and articulate their values, vision and mission statements, strategy, and strategic initiatives and build collaborative teams and communities for inspired action that centers on the positive core. Clients have include ACCI Business System, BAE Systems, Edsel and Eleanor Ford Foundation, Fasteners, Inc., General Motors of Mexico, Jefferson Wells (a Division of Manpower), NASA, Tendercare Healthcare Centers, PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Advisory University, United Way, Girl Scouts USA, National Education Association, Orbseal Technologies, and several Tier 1 and Tier 2 automotive suppliers, nonprofit organizations, and higher education institutions. She has worked and traveled to over a dozen countries in Australia, Asia, Europe, and North America. She has presented on OD & Change, AI and SOAR at Australian Management Institute, Business Links, Cengage Learning, Hewlett Packard, American Dietetic Association, PricewaterhouseCoopers, gedas USA, National City Bank, Oakland Leadership, National Training Labs (NTL), many national OD and management conferences, and the Detroit Chamber of Commerce. In 2010, she completed a series of workshops and book tour of Thin Book of SOAR in Australia. 

 Her industry work includes manufacturing, automotive, banking, technology, education, healthcare, government, and professional services. In all her management positions, Jackie reported directly to the president and was responsible for strategic planning, marketing, sales, training, ISO 9000 and QS 9000 projects, and international business development activities. 

Jackie has worked extensively with the Michigan Small Business Development Center Network (MI-SBDC). The MI-SBDC is part of a nation-wide SBDC network that provides counseling, training and resources to small-to-medium sized companies. She held positions of certified business counselor, international trade specialist, and director of Metro-International Business Development Center. Her experience with business owners included assisting clients in developing strategic business and marketing plans, evaluating financial uses and sources of funding, accessing international markets, setting up global operations and commercializing technologies. 

She earned her Executive Doctorate in Management at Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University. Her Dissertation topic was Capacity Building Using an Appreciative Approach: A Relational Process of Building Your Organization’s Future. The focus of the topic was an exploratory study about capacity building reminding you that an organization’s driving force is its people. The international NGOs that participated in this research are mission focused on the growth of civil society and sustainable development. Her dissertation has been cited in several published books and articles. Her M.B.A. is in International Business from Michigan State University, Eli Broad School of Management and a B.A. degree in Marketing from Wayne State University. 

Jackie is a charter co-owner of the Appreciative Inquiry Consulting, LLC, an associate for the Taos Institute and editor for Taos Institute Publishing and guest editor for Ai Practitioner International Journal. In 2006, Jackie received the Outstanding Contribution Award from the Taos Institute. She is a board member of the Positive Chang Core, a virtual global organization that focuses on strengths-based approaches to teaching and learning in primary education (Pk-12th grade).  She is also a special issues editor for the International Journal of Training and Development in OD, POS, and change. She is a member of the Academy of Management, Organization Development Network, and the Organization Development Institute.

the art and practice of asking questions that strengthen a person’s or system’s capacity to apprehend, anticipate, and heighten positive potential. SOAR is a strengths-based strategic thinking, strategy formulation and planning framework that allows an organization to construct its future through collaboration and a whole system approach. SOAR stands for: Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, and Results. She uses strengths-based whole system approaches to work with individuals, teams, divisions, and organizations to build dynamic relationships and co-create and facilitate strategic change initiatives. 

 www.dynamic-relationships.com

 M. Virginia Hinrichs (Gina) During the last twenty-five years, Gina has worked internationally in manufacturing, transportation, health care, insurance, education, and financial industries. She has led many workshops and projects to achieve shifts in performance, process improvement, and increased stakeholder engagement. Gina consults with a range of organizations from education and non-profit organizations to companies with more than $20 billion in sales. She works with organizations that want to grow, change, and significantly improve. Her career and client experience combine to provide a rich understanding of organizations and processes to facilitate change. 

Gina is an Associate Professor of Management for Capella University. Lawrence Technological University and Benedictine University She teaches management courses combining theory, critical thinking, and practical experience to prepare emerging business leaders. She has presented extensively at conferences and worked internationally. Her style focuses on business results while building organizational capacity.
 
Some of the continuous improvement technologies Gina employs are: Operational Innovation, Organizational Design, Leading Change, Action Research, Interactive Survey Feedback, Strength-based Whole System Approaches, Communication Planning for Change, Project Management, and Quality Systems.
 
Clients have included: IBM, John Deere, Schneider National, Pro-Health Medical Associates, Quad City Bank & Trust, U.S. Cellular, Aquent, Metropolitan Library System, Figge Art Museum, Illinois Association of Community Action Agencies, and numerous school systems and social profit organizations.
 
Gina earned her Ph.D. at Benedictine University. Her dissertation topic was the Enactment of High Performance Teams in a Brownfield site. The focus of the topic was sensemaking as a lever to shift mindsets and allow increased performance in a unionized manufacturing environment. 
Gina is a co-owner of StrengthsNet, LLC, which is a collaborative network of consultants that apply strengths-focused whole system approaches to support organizations. Gina was a past editor for the OD Journal. She is a board member of the Positive Chang Core, a virtual global organization that focuses on strengths-based approaches to teaching and learning in primary education (Pk-12th grade).   She is a member of the Academy of Management, Midwest Academy of Management, and Organization Development Network.