Mark & Mike ~

It's been a while since I asked you this question by email and you suggested I post it on the mb. I've finally gotten around to it. Since asking you the original question, I've changed to a new company where they promote the DISC model. My previous company used the MBTI model. I left just before taking the assessment, so I don't know my MBTI style. But I have taken the DISC.

My question is really about the different types of behavioral and communication assements that are out there. I know you've promoted the DISC model (I bet you can already see which I am) as a tool for managers.

I'd like to know your thoughts on:

2. AVA
3. Any others that you've seen used

Mark's picture
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I am a big fan of DISC because it is behavioral as opposed to psychological or mental or something else. Behavior is immediately accessible to people, and we are able to change it. So many other models are either too hard to understand or essentially put a label on someone, rather than helping them improve.

I don't care for MBTI or AVA, but know that others love it and wish them well with those efforts.

MBTI is too hard to understand, and it doesn't suggest easily enough a path to improvement. Telling case - EVERYONE always remembers their DISC profile - yet RARELY do folks I meet remember their Myers Briggs type and/or what it means.

AVA addresses things like Morale and Maturity... these are ENORMOUSLY hard things to talk about for most managers, let alone do anything about. Seriously - how well would most managers do when asked by a boss to improve one of their subordinate's "maturity"? [Interestingly, if they did, it would be by changing their behavior. ;-) ]

For me, management effectiveness - and therefore organizational results, is almost completely about BEHAVIOR.

That's why I'm a DISC fan.


xdarrah's picture


Thanks for the comment. I agree with you about the MBTI, there are just too many paths to comprehend before doing anything and it doesn't necessarily outline a direction to move into.

The company I am at now uses AVA to assess all external applicants but internally has attempted to promote the use and understanding of the DISC model. Do you see a conflict there?

Ironically, the AVA uncovered the transition period I was going through and family emergency, at least I feel that's what it was referring to when it said "conflict". But I never thought that a simple assessment could've done that.

Mark's picture
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I don't know what rationale there would be for two different assessments, but in general it makes more sense to have one for both internal and external. There may be cost issues, or turf issues, or relatioship/contract issues...

I use DISC and recommend it on the front and back end.


wendii's picture
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The most important thing about any of these tests is that they are scientifically valid. Disc is, MBTI is .. well, borderline. I can't find anything on AVA (although their website SAYS it's a scientifically valid test). Some of the tests around are no better than reading your horoscope.

There is a good explanation of this at:

and this article ends with your rights as a testee, in case you're asked to do any tests you don't understand:


Mark's picture
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Well done!


PierG's picture

I mail (try to) use these kind of models more and more often and I think the easier they are the better it is to apply.

From my point of view it's better a less deep, less multi-variable one.

That's why I like a simple 'avoid pain' - 'seek pleasure' splitting and then get a bit deeper.

P.S. More 'important' models can be used in long term relationship ...

shimrodmimir's picture

This type of modeling reminds me a lot of something used a lot in teaching a : learning styles. Learning styles are a useful tool when used right. Unfortunately they rarely are. While I am no expert in DISC, I see a similar pattern of misuse here that I just wanted to flag up for discussion:

Models like this are useful to help us think. It gives an easy handle on unknown situations. More importantly I think models like this are useful to make us explicitly consider various preferences and styles people have in their daily behavior, be it learning, working or playing football. It's a tool to help you approach the world from a variety of angles, in stead of from a single perspective that might not always be the most effective one.

The problem I see arising is when people just use these models as shortcuts to classify, and then stop thinking: Ok, you're a high D, here's my recipe book for dealing with high D's, end of problem. And if that's what you do, then your right back at dealing with the world through a narrow and not always effective perspective.

When using learning styles effectively, they are used to ensure that teaching is as varied and flexible as possible, addressing many different learning styles. They should not (but often are) used to try tailor content to an individual by matching their presumed style with a single style of teaching. I see DISC in a similar way. It gives me a toolbox to work with, things and approaches to try. and when I don't know someone very well, I'll need to make some assumptions. Models help you make better assumptions, better guesses. I think we sometimes forget that they are still assumptions and simplifications nothing more.

LouFlorence's picture
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One of the primary benefits of DISC is to force us to consider what the other person's perspective is. While there is a risk we will over-simplify a person's viewpoint based on their profile, just considering what their viewpoint is can lead to a better relationship.

WillDuke's picture
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I agree it's just a tool. Like all tools it can be used poorly or even maliciously. But that's not the tool's fault. Careless or cruel people will always be so. They'll just find another tool.

kklogic's picture

I've done Caliper, MBTI, Emergenetics, StrengthsFinder and DiSC. None of them in isolation provide a complete picture. The latter four, in conjunction, provide an almost dead-on representation. Obviously, no business has the time, effort or money to expend on doing this.

That said, I got the most out of SF. There is minimal risk of negative spin by employees because the odds of top 5's matching up exactly from one person to another is minimal.