Yesterday, an interesting book fell on my doormat: The Perils of Accentuating the Positive (edited by Rob Kaiser). In this book 15 authors challenge claims by some advocates of the so-called strengths movement that in order to flourish we should focus on identifying and developing our strengths instead of fixing our weaknesses. The authors argue that this perspective is dangerous and describe several problems. One of them is that there are important differences between an individual's strengths and what organizations and jobs ask of them. If individuals ignore the part that is asked of them but does not fit with their strengths, performance will suffer. A second problem is that a strict distinction between strengths and weakness is hard to make (for instance: strengths can become weakness when they are overused). A third problem is that the strengths perspectives ignores that working on weaknesses does matter (if a skill is required in your role and you're not good at it, it helps to improve it).
As you know, I have written several times about my idea that the strengths perspective is probably not the essence of the solution-focused approach and also not of positive psychology. I think this focus is probably too individualistic and we'd do well to move into a more interactive, dynamic and situationist perspective. Instead of focusing on strengths I think we should focus more on what (whatever) works. Functioning, well-being, flourishing and performing at core is a matter of person x situation. When we want focus on what is right (which I think often is a good idea), we should keep that in mind. We are always looking at what someone does in a certain context. We should not separate the individual from its context.
Here are a few posts in which I try explain my view: It is essentially about what has functioned well (not about strengths), Positive psychology, the strengths movement and the solution-focused approach, Overemphasizing strengths?, Critical examination of the strengths perspective.