What Does the Small “i” in DiSC Mean?

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One DiSC related question we get on a regular basis is: “Why does DiSC have a small “i”? DISC model based profiles tests, assessments, surveys, etc… go by many different names and are published by a number of different companies. These D.I.S.C. based products go by such names as Everything DiSCDiSC Classic, DISC Profile, personal profile system, disc test, disc assessment, disc personality profile, disc report, DISC survey, and other variations of these to name a few. DISC has been referred to as a test, profile, assessment, survey, report, inventory, behavioral assessment, personality test and much, much more. At times it is spelled DISC, D.I.S.C., or DiSC. It is this last version of the profile that has caused many questions and much debate over the years around why there is a small i used. Is it that influence is less important, less powerful, or less significant than the D for Dominance, the S for Steadiness, or the C for Consciousness? Well, the truth of the matter is no, that is not the case. There is no deep dark research based reason for the small i. And no, certification or advanced training is not required to be a keeper of the secret or the i.

Here is the story of how the DISC got its i. Once upon a time, a along, long time ago before Everything DiSC® was published by Wiley (the largest publisher of DISC based products and the only publisher of the DiSC profile) before it was Inscape Publishing, and even before it was Carlson Learning Company, DiSC was published by a small company called Performax, and a funny thing happened. One day, this small organization had placed an order for their original printing of the DISC Personal Profile System, and when they got their assessment booklets back from the printer there was a typo. A small little typo. A typo the size of an “i”. Yes, that is right. The printer did not capitalize the I in DISC. Performax decided to use this mistake and copyright DiSC to make it their own. So that is how DISC got its small i. When you see the small i version of the DISC profile, you know it was published by Wiley/Inscape Publishing, one of its ancestors, or it is in violation copyright laws.

So how can this be? How can so many different assessments and tools for personality and behavior types from multiple companies and publishers all claim to be the DISC? Well, William Marston, the originator of the DISC model never copyrighted the acronym of his four primary personality behavioral types or temperaments, oops.

Bases on our research, all of the various models of DISC are based on Marston’s 1928 work. Some have added to it, some have borrowed from it, some give Marston his credit, and some actually by-pass Marston and give Jung credit for the DISC model. Based on our research, Marston was influence by Jung as he was by many others in his field.

And so that is how the DiSC got its “i”.

Please feel free to contact us with any feedback, questions, concerns or thoughts you may have on this topic.

John C Goodman, MSOD, MSW

Center for Internal Change