Workplaces in the US, Northern Europe and the UK tend to exist within a culture where 'problem-based' development approaches to learning tend to outnumber 'affirming' ones. There is a widely-held assumption in Western culture that improvement comes primarily from the eradication of defect or error. This approach of informed criticism and constructive problem solving has indeed exposed important flaws, and led to huge progress in countless domains. Westerners have become so focused on solving problems that the negative things are often the ones noticed first. People rarely look into the reasons for 'rightness' in the same way that they enquire rigorously when things go wrong. Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is not the "Positive Thinking" movement. AI can be defined as the art of discovering and valuing those factors that 'give life' to an organisation, group, individual or relationship.
Vanstone, C. (2004) Affirmative Action, Training Magazine, 1 June.