About

Our Approach

What makes TotalSDI unique? We help you navigate the intersection of self-awareness and team effectiveness.

Our approach involves helping people understand how their motives drive their behaviours, how those motives and behaviours change during different situations, and how to develop a better understanding of the motive-driven behaviours of others. It’s an approach that drives stronger relationships and more effective teams. This philosophy has driven our approach for more than 40 years with more than 2+ million people and it’s more important than ever in modern work environments.
our-approach
With the Millennial generation growing as a force in the workplace, with technological advances connecting people around the globe, and with a heightened sense of consciousness about creating meaningful work, the ability to interact effectively with others is critical.

Our tools are designed to help people understand themselves and others – not just how we behave, but why we behave in certain ways – and that understanding can lead to meaningful, practical changes in leaders and teams that minimise conflict and maximise effectiveness.

People are Complex; Relationships Don’t Have to Be

People are complex, and that can make interacting with people challenging. At times, it can make them downright difficult.

TotalSDI is based on powerful yet simple approaches to helping individuals and teams develop the awareness and skills they need to build more effective personal and professional relationships. It helps them sustain those relationships by understanding the underlying motivations of themselves and others under two conditions – when things are going well and when there is conflict. Our approach helps people recognise they are free to choose behaviours that accommodate their values, while also taking into account the values of others.

This dynamic and powerful way of looking at the motives that drive behaviours aids in building effective communication and productive work relationships.

The TotalSDI Difference

Consultants, coaches and trainers who use TotalSDI typically sum up our approach in three ways: It’s smart. It’s memorable. And it’s useful. Of course, every tool on the market makes the same claims, so let’s look a little deeper at what really makes the TotalSDI approach different from other assessments.

  • It reveals motives. TotalSDI focuses not just on behaviours, but on the motives that drive behaviours. Other tools simply measure behaviours. TotalSDI goes deeper to explore the causes of behaviours. We are all driven by self-worth – a motivation to be valued by ourselves and by others for the things that are important to us. TotalSDI gets to the heart of what people value, and that not only builds greater self-awareness but also more empathy for the values and needs of others.
  • It’s bi-conditional. Work comes with stress and conflict, even in environments where everyone likes each other. The reality is, when things get stressful and conflict enters a work situation, our motives and reactions change. Other assessments don’t take this reality into account. TotalSDI measures the motives behind the behaviours when conditions are going well and when conditions involve the different stages of conflict.
  • It strengthens a weakness. It would be nice if we only had to use the behaviours we see as our strengths, and that’s what some tools recommend. But we don’t have the luxury of avoiding our perceived weaknesses. Nor should we avoid them. TotalSDI recognises that there are times when we need to use different behaviours based on the conditions, our motives, and the motives that are driving others. There are times when we can over-use our comfortable strengths and times when strengths we see as “weak” can become our greatest allies.
  • It’s a system of its own. When you go into an organisation, you face two systems: The human systems and the organisational systems. TotalSDI is designed to improve both. The assessments improve human systems by creating more productive cultures, more collaborative teams, high-performing individuals, and stronger relationships. They also give you the data and insights you need to build the best programmes for your clients – programmes that use TotalSDI as a foundation for ongoing learning.

Smarter, More Memorable, More Useful

We already acknowledged that other tools also claim to be smart, memorable, and useful, just like TotalSDI. Our partners – consultants, coaches, and trainers who use TotalSDI – tell us what makes our products different, however, is that ours are smarter, more memorable, and more useful. So we’ll embrace the praise.

Smarter. Our foundation and framework consists of more than 40 years of rigorous academic research. Famed psychologist Dr. Elias Porter created the SDI and developed the Relationship Awareness Theory, which has four main premises:

  • Behaviour is driven by motives. Why we do things is just as important as what we do. TotalSDI shows the motives that drive people’s behaviour in a simple, memorable language that makes it easy for people to understand each other and work more effectively together.
  • Motives change in conflict. We feel and act differently during conflict; we want different things. TotalSDI shows these changes in motives as conflict progresses – and the related changes in behaviour. It gives people tools to prevent and manage conflict in any type of relationship.
  • Strengths can be overdone. We can use our strengths so much that they work against us and become non-productive. For example, a person who trusts too much may be seen as gullible; an overly confident person may be seen as arrogant. Overdone strengths, or the perception of overdoing, can cause conflict.
  • Filters influence perception. What we see is influenced by who we are and how we are motivated. We look for ways to fulfill our motives. If we are motivated to help others, we will see people’s needs sooner than others do. If we are motivated by accomplishment, we will see opportunities that others miss.

More Memorable. TotalSDI provides a suite of tools that are elegant in their design, making them easy to understand and remember. There are only 20 questions in the SDI assessment, so it takes far less time to complete than many other assessments. And the simple triangle graphic, the easy-to-relate-to descriptions, and the use of primary colours provide markers that people intuitively understand and remember.

More useful. Memorable is good. But this doesn’t matter if the content is confined to a book or workshop. The question is, can it help people in their daily interactions? And the answer is, “Absolutely!” In fact, one thing that distinguishes it from many other assessment tools is that its usefulness applies in changing situations when the stakes are high. It provides a framework for understanding motivations when things are going well and when important relationships slide into conflict. The common, friendly language helps create a safe environment for people to talk about the challenges they face with their interpersonal relationships.