Strength Deployment Inventory (SDI) 

The TotalSDI Difference: Reap the Benefits

Organizations benefit from the applications of TotalSDI assessments because:

  • They can see the “why.” It provides the most accurate snapshot of who they are – their personal system of motives that drive their behaviours.
  • They learn to honour differences. It offers insight into the unique ways they value different strengths and how they interpret the actions of others.
  • They can depersonalize conflict. A non-threatening method for effectively dealing with conflict.
  • They can apply what they learn. It’s not just good in theory, it works in practice! TotalSDI assessments include practical ways to recognize and communicate with different motivational styles.
  • It’s memorable. It creates a common language for understanding and discussing motives and relationships by using easy to remember illustrations, terms, and colours.
  • It paints a team portrait.  Team results are shown in one easy to understand graphic.

Get Outside the Box

When it comes to TotalSDI, the triangle provides the perfect way to illustrate the results from a powerful and meaningful tool that’s distinct from other assessments.

  • It breaks away from the norm. People in organizations aren’t pigeonholed in a particular box. Instead, they see their results represented as an arrow that indicates how frequently they are motivated by a concern for people, performance, and process.
  • It covers two conditions. The TotalSDI shows the degree and the nature of changes when things are going well and when there is a conflict.
  • It’s about interactions. When team members experience the TotalSDI, it creates a picture of the differences in motivational values and triggers for conflict. It makes it easy for everyone to understand their results, talk about them, and learn from them.

The Foundation – Relationship Awareness Theory®

The Strength Deployment Inventory® (SDI®) is the foundational assessment of TotalSDI. The SDI is based upon 40 years of rigorous research by famed Psychologist Dr. Elias Porter.

Relationship Awareness Theory® has four key premises:

  1. Behaviour is driven by motives. WHY we do things is just as important as WHAT we do. TotalSDI provides a methodology for understanding a person’s Motivational Value System – the motives that drive behaviour and provide an understanding of why people do what they do.
  2. Motives change in conflict. We feel and act differently during conflict, and we want different things. TotalSDI demonstrates these changes in motives as conflict progresses – including the related changes in behaviour. It guides people toward developing ways to prevent and manage conflict more productively.
  3. Strengths can be overdone. We all have the potential to apply our strengths in non-productive ways. It is the perception of these overdone strengths that usually creates conflict for people.
  4. Filters influence perception. What we see is influenced by who we are and what motivates us. Our Motivational Value System acts as a lens through which we view the world and judge ourselves and others.

The SDI helps people see their motives in light of their relative focus on three critical business priorities.

  • PEOPLE: Helping and developing others
  • PERFORMANCE: Directing action and achieving results
  • PROCESS: Establishing clarity and meaningful order

The importance of learning how to balance these three priorities, at the individual, team and organizational levels, is the key focus of TotalSDI.

The Missing Link between Leadership and Organizational Performance

While opinions regarding the requisite skills, qualities, and behaviours of leaders are many and diverse, most have one common thread – leadership requires managing relationships. At all organization levels, people are in roles where their performance is measured not only on results but, as importantly, on how they manage their relationships with others.

Recent research suggests that relationships, while often considered a “soft” skill, actually play a more direct role in organizational and team performance. New goals, different team members, and changing roles, structures and accountabilities are realities in today’s workplace that generate stress, conflict and other relationship issues at all levels of an organization.

Faulty work relationships often result in conflict that impacts every aspect of a business; from board and executive relations to customer relationship management, supplier partnerships, and employee and labour relations.

Conflict impacts leaders, teams and individuals, and frequently is the underlying cause of the typical issues that arise in today’s work environments. Studies show that more than 65 percent of performance issues result from strained relationships – up, down, and across the organization. It is not the lack of knowledge, skills or motivation, but the mismanagement of relationships that creates the greatest cost to organizations. TotalSDI can diagnose the root causes of these issues to enable sustainable change in the ways people work with and lead others.

 You’re Speaking My Language!

TotalSDI assessments are available in 26 languages – but what is more important is the language these tools teach. When it comes to work relationships, everyone speaks a different “motivational language”. TotalSDI helps each person understand their own language, and the languages other people speak. It provides a further understanding of how those languages change during a conflict and, in turn, how to prevent, manage and resolve it.

 The TotalSDI Difference

What differentiates TotalSDI within today’s marketplace of leadership assessments and consulting methodologies is the following:

  • It reveals motives. TotalSDI goes beyond behaviours to motivation – what DRIVES those behaviours. We are all driven by the need to be valued by ourselves and others, for the things that are important to us. TotalSDI gets to the heart of what people value and, as a result, provides an important foundation for constructive dialogue and mutual respect.
  • It is bi-conditional. Today’s work environments are comprised of human systems. By their very nature, the people within these systems experience conflict in response to the stress associated with constant change and ambiguity in the workplace. People experience two conditions that can be described as “going well” and “in conflict”. Under these two conditions, our motives and reactions can change. TotalSDI is the only methodology that guides people toward understanding why this natural shift in motivation occurs, how it can impact individuals and teams, and what we can do about it.
  • It strengthens a weakness. Most leadership assessments don’t show you when a strength, taken too far, becomes a weakness. Focusing only on a person’s “strengths” or “weaknesses” ignores the fact that strengths can be overdone, underdone or misapplied. There are times when we can over-use our “go to” strengths and times when strengths we use less frequently can be a better option in a different context. TotalSDI guides people toward recognizing those times when we may need to choose different strengths to get better results.
  • It’s a system of its own. TotalSDI insights lead to improved organizational, team and personal performance. It provides a systemic methodology for people to work productively together, within and across teams, at all levels of the organization.

Who's Using TotalSDI?

Aug 2016 Twitter used the SDI to bring their team together.


Course Fee: $3500/day per group

Group Size: up to 12.  Additional participants $275 each/day

Contact our team by emailing


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