My Strength Deployment Inventory

I had another opportunity recently to take another assessment test.  This one was the SDI (strength deployment inventory), which (according to the official materials) “helps people identify their personal strengths in relating to others under two conditions: 1) when everything is going well, and 2) when they are faced with conflict.  It is an inventory for taking stock of motivational values.”  In this one you answer a series of complex questions about how you act/react in specific scenarios.  For me, there were no clear cut answers.

The premise is that there are 3 primary motivations: altruistic nurturing; assertive-directing and analytic-autonomizing.  As you would assume, the altruistic nurturing motivation relates to the needs of others, always wanting to help, being open, supportive and compassionate.  The assertive-directing ones relates to leadership, opportunity, immediate action, innovation, accepting challenges and risk-taking.  Lastly, analytic-autonomizing relates to objectivity, practicality, controlling ones emotions, logic, reliability, and thinking things through before acting.  There is also a notion of a hub which equates to flexible-cohering, where one is open minded and willing to adapt, likes to be known as flexibly and can foster consensus-building.  The SDI is modeled in a way that there are also blended areas with unique attributes including assertive-nurturing, judicious-competing and cautious-supporting.

I have a pretty good sense of who I am and aligned pretty closely with that in the SDI – I walk the line of analytic-autonomizing and assertive-directive, centered in the flexible-cohering hub.  I thrive on innovation, willing to ask the hard questions, am open to opportunities (life is an adventure), but also am logical, reliable, organized and methodical in my decision making process.  I like to believe that one of my strongest points is my ability to be flexible and rise above the chaos to continue to fulfill my responsibilities and duties.  My blended SDI motivational value system is judicious-competing and describes someone who “provides rational leadership that can assess risk and decisive and proactive..challenge opposition through thoughtful process and strategy.”  A rewarding environment for this person is “strategic, determined, planning..complex, challenging tasks requiring expertise…environment that offers recognition for achievement…opportunities to lead and develop winning strategies.”

The second part of the SDI focuses on how you act in conflict.  Interestingly for me, I do not act that much differently in conflict than I do regularly.  My conflict sequence is described as “a person who first tries the analytic, logical and reserved response to conflict followed by an assertive, forceful attack based on logic and strategies.”  The last resort of this would be to surrender.  I blame it on the stubbornness I inherited from my dad.


I’m “A”, the little dot in the bottom right of the center circle.  B was the assessor and is included as a comparison to yourself.

While I wasn’t surprised by the results, I did learn a lot through the experience.  I could associate with the assessment and quickly retrieve examples that fit the different scenarios.  It reinforced the environment that I thought best suited me, and highlighted some insights into how those motivations and reactions are viewed by others.  There is a fine line for all of these motivations and you can quickly be misinterpreted: from confident to arrogant; persuasive to abrasive; competitive to combative; persevering to stubborn; reserved to cold; flexible to wishy-washy; open to change to inconsistent.


What I learned from taking Assessment Tests

As a general matter, I’ve always been a little hesitant to be boxed into a corner by personality of assessments. My volunteer work with Women in Technology has allowed me access to the Predictive Index and the 360Reach.  I was promoting these to other men and women so decided I should take these myself.  This entry is about my personal experience and what I learned.

1.  Simple and quick:  The Predictive Index is a simple test where you answer two questions: one involves selecting attributes that you would use to describe yourself and one involves selecting attributes that you believe others would use to describe you.  If I recall correctly, you select about 10 attributes each.  There is also a 20 minute explanation exercise you have with an experienced PI interpreter. The 360Reach requires that you do a self-assessment, followed by solicitation of feedback from employees, clients, customers, mentors, family, etc.  There is a similar premise that you are selecting attributes that best describe yourself (or attributes are selected for you from those you have included).  It is a little more difficult in that you are only allowed to choose x number of attributes, as few as 3 and as many as 10 for each of the different questions.  There are also a couple of creative “projective” questions in the 360Reach that you are required to have your recipients respond to.  For me, these included “If you were a household appliance, what type of appliance would you be?” and “If you were a breakfast cereal, what cereal would you be?”

2.  Accurate: For fairly simple methodologies from an end-user perspective, it is incredibly accurate compared to how I live life.  For example, I chose to leave a good position at a large organization in 2011, in pursuit of a smaller, more agile environment. The PI determined that I’m “strongly venturesome in taking risks and focusing on the future.”  I would argue that this coincides with someone who is willing to leave a position, looking for greener pastures, without the next opportunity lined up.  The 360Reach assessment categorized my number one brand persona as “rock.”  “Rocks are always there for you.  You can always count on them.  Reliability is a core attribute of theirs.”  This matches my circle of friends.  While I don’t consider myself close to lots and lots of people, those I do consider close are ones that I would always be there to support.

3.  Perspective is everything:  This lesson was probably the most interesting to me.  The PI assessment is completed solely by you.  I would think that you could bias the questions so that the align better, or you are more critical of how others perceive you, or even more critical of yourself.  As I understand it from Teri Kinsella, who did my PI interpretation the test ends up balancing out in the end.  Of those people who admitted trying to game the system, their results still more accurately reflected their true personality.

With the 360Reach, the first person to complete it was a family member, who defined me as a leader.  In most cases, those results are going to be more skewed towards your success.  The second person to complete it had a very different perspective of me, who defined me more as a project manager.  This made sense as I tried to compile a good balance of friends, family, mentors, colleagues and employees.  This group of people knows me from different jobs, volunteer opportunities, or even just family or friend situations.  My context to them is different, therefore the it makes sense to see two different POVs.  The importance and impact of differing perspectives was also obvious in one set of feedback from someone who did not identify themselves as my employee that felt “I tend to motivate by intimidation” versus the person who clearly identified themselves as having worked for me that  felt “Dagny showed amazing patience when I had the pleasure of working for her.  It was under her that I was able to quickly develop my skills through a combination of trial by fire and the confidence that came with knowing that I could make mistakes along the way, as long as I didn’t make the same one twice.  She fostered a great working environment that was both challenging and fun.  She has an uncanny ability to hone in on what motivates an employee, and uses that to get the best out them.”  Interestingly, the initial comment was removed prior to the end of the assessment period and not included in the final report.  While that might have been a heat of the moment response, it’s something to be conscious about.  Each person has their unique perspective and motivations.

If you are interested in learning more about Predictive Index assessment, you can visit this PI definition or visit the PI Worldwide website.  To learn more about the 360 Reach, the Reach site is best.