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Organizational Effectiveness Lecture Series (OELS)

How to Engage Employees: SOAR, Positive Culture and the Power of Conversations


SOAR: Creating Strategy  and Strategic Plans that Inspires Innovation and Engagement


SOAR, stands for Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, and Results, is a profoundly positive approach to strategic thinking, planning, and leading. SOAR invites an organization’s stakeholders to construct its future through collaboration, shared understanding, and a commitment to action to achieve positive results. SOAR leverages the Appreciative Inquiry paradigm to shift and amplify the energy and dialogue of stakeholders to what is possible. Participants will

  • Understand the SOAR-related disciplines for positive strategic change
  • Learn the essence of SOAR: What is It, How Was It Created, and How to Use It
  • Discover how to use SOAR at all levels: From Self to Teams, Departments, and Organization
  • Build SOAR into strategic conversations (Quick SOAR)
  • Learn the science behind SOAR

Jacqueline (Jackie) Stavros, DM. Jackie’s passion is working with others to discover their strengths, identify opportunities and create a plan with meaningful results for positive change! She is internationally recognized for her creation of SOAR, a positive approach to strategic thinking, planning, and leading that focuses on strengths, opportunities, aspirations and results based on strategic conversations. The heart of her work is using Appreciative Inquiry (AI), one of the most popular approaches to positive change – that is bringing out the best in people, their organizations, and communities to fuel conversations worth having that produce meaningful engagement and results.  Her latest books are Thin Book of SOAR: Creating Strategy that Inspires Innovation and Engagement ( and Conversations Worth Having: Using Appreciative Inquiry to Fuel Productive and Meaningful Engagement (

Jackie has been integrating strengths-based, whole system practices into her research, teaching, training, coaching, and consulting work to strengthen relationships, impact performance, and create positive change.

She works with organizations in leadership development, team-building, and strategic planning. She helps organizations identify and articulate their values, vision, mission, strategy, and strategic initiatives and build collaborative teams and communities for results-oriented action. She has worked across all sectors: for-profit, non-profit, government, and a wide spectrum of industries.

Jackie is a professor at Lawrence Technological University (LTU) College of Business and IT and has been honored with the LTU Inaugural Presidential Research Award ( She is a member of the Appreciative Inquiry Council of Practitioners for the Cooperrider Center for Appreciative Inquiry. Prior to joining LTU, her industry work includes manufacturing, automotive, banking, technology, education, healthcare, government, and professional services.

Jackie has co-authored many books, book chapters, and articles including: Appreciative Inquiry Handbook: For Leadership of Change, Dynamic Relationships: Unleashing the Power of Appreciative Inquiry in Daily Living and Practicing Organization Development: Leading Transformation and Change. She has presented her research and work in over 25 countries using AI and SOAR to affect the lives of thousands of people and their organizations and communities improve capacity to thrive, perform, and flourish. Her work has been featured in Forbes, SmartBrief, Fast Company, Detroit’s Live in the D, and meaning leadership and training blogs and podcasts. Jackie earned her Doctorate in Management from Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University. Her dissertation: Capacity Building Using an Appreciative Approach: A Relational Process of Building Your Organization’s Future. She earned her MBA at Michigan State University and BA at Wayne State University. She lives in Brighton, MI with her husband, Paul, their kids, Ally and Adam, and lovable dog, Rex.


Scott McGohan, CEO of McGohan Brabender. Scott works on vision casting, strategy alignment and leadership deployment. He has been with MB since 1988. As a business leader, it is always about people for Scott-- always has been and always will be. 

Scott believes that understanding your core is the essence of transformation. That includes being vulnerable about both your strengths and weaknesses. He believes people need to see leaders make mistakes, own them when they do and teach people through success and failure. Scott believes you cannot threaten, coerce or reward people to care. You can only awaken the desire inside of them and give them the permission and encouragement to do so. Products are delivered by people, and when people believe in themselves they will believe in you.