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Acronyms From Another Time
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DISC, MBTI and Other Quaint Antiques

I have reached the age bracket of "Senior Citizen" and am somewhat comfortable with it.  Although my body says "walk, don't run" my mind races forward anytime it wants to. And so it is that I arrived at this mental moment at 4am.
Brain Diagram
As a seasoned senior citizen I find pleasure with things antique. I am pleased by thoughts of "muscle cars" (1950s), Colt revolvers (1870s), Marilyn Monroe (frozen in time), and "rotary/dial phones" to name a few century-old antiques. At the same time I am very displeased by ancient psychological assessments which personify the Stone Age of mental measurement tools. You know, the classic ones such as Rorschach Ink Blots, maps showing "Bumps on the Skull", the TAT (look it up!), numerous representations of the "Diseases of the Mind" and Sigmund Freud's "The Interpretation of Dreams." Throw in all the derivatives of these classic artifacts too because they are still in use to this day.
Rorschach Test
These objects have one common quality: They are cultural relics representing the best thinking that could be worked into tools for observing and describing the human mind at that time. If I were to use inkblots and Freud or Jung today with my clients, I would be perceived as an old geezer instead of a wise consultant. 

So why doesn't that stereotype happen when I casually mention two equally ancient tools, The DISC and the MBTI?
What's my evidence for establishing their antiquity? You can do a Wikipedia search faster than I can give you a lecture on the history of 19th and 20th century psychological assessments. However, you might skip past the features that identify these tools as antiques. So I'll point out the most obvious clues for the "antique" classification. For the DISC the clue comes from the "D" which stands for "Dominance", and for the MBTI the clue comes from the "T" which stands for "Type". Typology and Dominance are relics from psychology's past.

Back one or two centuries ago the "zeitgeist" was to characterize Dominance as Aggression, meaning active, aggressive behavior in humans and other animals. Scholars offered us Fight or Flight (Walter B. Cannon, 1871-1945), Dog Aggression (Charles Darwin's "The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals," 1809-1882) and On Aggression (Konrad Lorenz, 1903-1989). All are classic scholarly works worthy of a read.

Then somewhere in the 1960s the word "assertiveness" instead of "aggressiveness" became more relevant in the spirit of personal consciousness and self-awareness, especially in females. Why, because this shift sanctioned women's entry into formerly "off-limits" positions of influence and assertiveness where aggressiveness was perceived as less appropriate. Eventually the psychological construct for Dominance became the positive influencing of others while steering clear of submissiveness and authoritarian aggressiveness. Simply put, the concept evolved into the using of positive control with others.

The story about "Type" (T) has a history that goes back to the Greek philosopher, Hippocrates ( 400 BC) who described personality as having "types" which he referred to as "Humors"(Choleric, Melancholic, Sanguine, and Phlegmatic). Fast-forward to Carl Jung's description of "Eight Personality Types" where you'll find his primary dimension, Extrovert - Introvert, cast as a dichotomy/typology. Each type had four sub-types: Feeling, Thinking, Sensing and Intuitive. In the DISC the Extrovert and Introvert dichotomy is found beneath the "I" (Influencer Extrovert) and "C" (Conscientious Introvert). Meanwhile, if you know that" MBTI" stands for Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, then you might recognize Jung's sub-types, Feeling, Thinking, Sensing and Intuitive as the basis for describing the 24 possible combinations presented in every MBTI report.
Myers-Briggs My point is that both DISC and MBTI are tools built with century-old concepts and technology, kind of like phones with cords that had to be cranked up to reach the live operator who placed a call for you. So here we are today with wireless communication, worldwide connectivity, rapid transportation that is "crank-less", but we are stuck on two assessments that are antiques yet still widely used.
These antiques are inadequate for the job of describing and developing today's workers and their complex habits and attitudes. Today in the 21st century we use best thinking that is grounded in observable data, where psychology has settled into a construct for workplace personality that is driven by five to ten independent but interrelated factors.

Business will need to let go of two-factor conventional wisdom so that it can get hold of something multi-factor that better helps develop leaders, managers and key players.

Don't Lose That Thought, 
Allen M. "Dr. Al" Raffetto, Ph.D.
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