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Strength Deployment Inventory


A training provider we are planning to use for a coaching skills workshop has suggested using the Strengths Deployment Inventory (SDI) to measure how participants deploy their strengths in relating to others. I'm not familiar with this tool and wondered if others had used it and how they felt it compared to other more well known tools such as MBTI, in terms of use and also validity.
Mandy Shackleton

6 Responses

  1. SDI robust enough
    Hi Mandy
    The SDI has been around for quite a while and is a robust tool. Unlike the MBTI it is not a ‘true’ psychometric in that the data collected has not been normed in the same way as a psychometric. However the original research and concept is arguably more robust than MBTI.

    The SDI uses language to describe strengths and weaknesses (over done strengths) which is easier for most people to understand than MBTI (which uses very technical jargon).

    The SDI has good face validity with users and is a non-threatening tool when used effectively

    I have used both instruments extensively over the years and nine time out of ten would use the SDI in a workshop over the MBTI. Simply the MBTI takes too long for participants to understand – most of the course would be looking at the MBTI not coaching skills!

    Just to add some balance other tools like the Creatrix, Leadership styles etc are also valid and useful tools for helping to develop coaching skills.
    Good luck with your decision and training


  2. I agree with Mike
    Horses for courses – SDI is certainly more accessible than MBTI. You could also look at TMS which has the same Jungian basis as MBTI but again is more accessible. I’d tend to use SDI more in situations where people have difficulty getting on with each other. If you do want a ‘proper’ psychometric tool re relationships, look at FIRO-B in preference to MBTI.


    I use MBTI for one to one coaching where I have the time (minimum of two hours) to discuss the types, ask the individual to think bout the dichotomies, work through examples and use exercises to highlight what each means in a way that they understand before revealing any scored type preferences.

    We then have time to re-think and discuss further the type indicators and set up some actions / personal research if they are unsure.

    I refuse to use MBTI with large groups where the approach will have to be a “sheep dip” using broad type generalisations. Typically these sessions leave the attendees with their scored preference only and little or no opportunity to discuss the usual anomalies that people feel about type preference.

    In this sense whilst MBTI is valid scientifically it can be woefully invalid if miss-applied in such a way.

    SDI, in terms of consistency and practical use by recipients has been a wonderful tool for use with groups, for me, from a handful to 30.

    I also use this when coaching in areas of conflict and relationship management such as selling. I can see where the supplier is coming from re your coaching session.

    I would say that if your workshop is for many people SDI will be a lot more helpful and provide the coaches with applicable skills that they can use in their coaching.

    If you go down the group MBTI route they may end up telling people they are a typical “J” and that they can only get on in their company if they become more “P”!!!

    This may be sad/laughable but it happens because I have worked with individuals who have experienced just such as session and been told the exact same messages.

    It is always difficult to know if a particular supplier is going for a specific tool for reasons of their own so it is a useful to have a discussion about the uses and potential miss-uses of such tools.



    I would use SDI over MBTI for some of the already stated reasons less jargon, more accessible, More face validity, etc. You may also want to dicuss with your provider what level od Instrument they propose to use as ther is a delux version and standard version. They also do an SDI where the language is even more accessible as it’s designed for use where English is not the first language so virtualy no jargon. Great in the UK if your working with people who are unfamiliar with the whole management development/coaching/CPD arena and its associated jargon.

    Stuart Gray

    Many thanks for these replies, very helpful. Having also discussed with the workshop leader who is qualified in MBTI and SDI, I feel much more confident in the use of the latter tool.

  6. SDI is a versatile tool…
    I was accredited by SDI many years ago now. I love it as a tool to use especially when dealing with teams. As vector lines are put up on the large triangle, there are many Ah-ha moments for the delegates before I can debrief. I have used it to resolve team issues, individual issues, barriers to communication, management style issues, performance management etc.
    I agree with the other comments about MBTI – people get confused by the terminology. The idea of ‘overplayed’ strengths -rather than weaknesses – is enlightening for many people I would recommend SDI any day!


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