In the early 80's, Douglas Wilson, PhD., was teaching Organizational Behavior at the USC Graduate School of Business and working with Toyota Motor Company’s heads of HR and Strategic Development for North America to improve their leadership practices. Gene Getz, PhD., a former professor of Dr. Wilson’s, had built a successful career implementing behavioral principles in both educational and religious institutions. They both championed the critical importance of productive team interactions that resulted in higher performance, and began to work together on an instrument to assist teams in these areas.

At that time, there were other tools already being utilized. They considered these and their opinion was that most were based on identifying personal characteristics and were more descriptive by design. These were helpful, but they believed a predictive tool for team interactions could prove useful. Their theory was based upon the supposition, "if we can understand who someone is, could we scientifically predict how they would prefer to act in a team environment?"

Together they developed their theory, initiated research, and began design. Their empirical research identified four activities that surfaced as highly consistent within individuals and teams. Initially, 224 items were constructed to qualitatively measure the four activities. As results were analyzed, utilizing Cronbach’s alpha as a criterion, items that did not surpass acceptable internal reliability measurements were dropped. Wilson and Getz were not simply trying to prove their theory, they were seeking to develop an instrument with exceptional internal consistency.... one that would help individuals and teams perform at a higher level, through the recognition of preferred behavior styles, with awareness of how their behaviors influence themselves and others. The final version of the SOI presents 84 items, the responses to which scientifically identify how a person will most naturally act within the four dimensions of team performance the SOI is measuring.