Those of us who see the importance of future developments in our own little worlds as well as
improvements in the bigger world around us are miffed that so many other bright human beings seem
completely indifferent to ongoing innovation and advances. At the root of this “problem” is a factor
postulated 2,370 years ago by the Greek scientist and doctor Hippocrates (circa 350 BCE).
The author of the Hippocratic Oath suggested that humans were influenced by some aspect of each of
four different “bodily fluids” that determined that individual’s daily behavior. As outrageous as this idea
seems, today every form of psychometric testing extant, such as Myers Briggs and DiSC, works with
these four temperaments as its foundation – although the bodily fluids idea has long since been
dismissed. For the past twenty years, our firm, CCCC, has been able to assist CEOs around the globe to
appreciate and apply the benefits of these postulates of Dr. Hippocrates in a practical and significant
A Brief Introduction to Temperament
The name given to these four temperaments varies from user to user; CCCC applies the names:
Producer, Analyzer, Visionary, and Friend (P,A,V,F), but you can call them whatever you want. This
paper is not the place to go into deep details; however, to continue the overview, each temperament is
summarized as follows:
Producer (P) is productive, fast, in a hurry, anxious, focused, a loner, and often intolerant. Do you
know anyone like that?
Analyzer (A) is thorough, careful, accurate, precise, yet afraid to take a risk. Do you know
anyone like that?
Visionary (V) is full of ideas, embraces change, will take chances, is adaptable, is curious, yet
dislikes too much detail or being limited by restrictions. Do you know anyone like that?
Friend (F) is empathetic, people-oriented, amiable, yet dislikes conflict and too much pressure.
Do you know anyone like that?
I have asked you to think of someone you know in each case so that it is easier for you to identify these
four temperaments as they arise in this paper.
Further descriptors of PAVF are:
The mix of these temperaments within individuals is all over the map; however, most people are
strong in two. Personally, I am PV (Producer, Visionary) and my friend Andreas is AF (Analyzer,
Dislikes: Actually, I find that extreme A’s drive me crazy with their unending focus on details.
My “F” amigos never seem to pull the plug out to get things done on time. So, I don’t spend a
lot of time with my AF friend, Andreas. It is quite normal to find yourself in conflict with those
of opposite temperaments – especially V vs. A or P vs. F. During our PAVF lectures we
demonstrate that nobody likes anybody else very much. (And we show ways to make
associating with people, work – but that is not the point of this paper.)
Changing spots: We believe that you cannot change your spots, i.e., your temperament; it is
hard-wired within your DNA. Babies demonstrate it with their aggressiveness (P) or laid-back
behavior (F), etc. Your PAVF is not inherited directly to match your parents’, so a V parent can
spawn an A boy (and have much agony trying to understand him).
Flexibility: We can’t change our spots; however, the PV can perform AF tasks as long as they
don’t dominate most of the PV’s day. The PV does not get her jollies from addressing AF tasks –
but she thrills at addressing P tasks (being busy) and V tasks (anxious to be dealing with new
Essential need: Despite the complete lack of affinity among P, A, V, and F, we make it clear to
our clients that in order to be successful we need all of P, A, V, and F. The absence of any one of
them will lead to a failure in some key aspect of the enterprise.
Distribution: Each of P, A, V, F (and particularly V in this narrative) have a predictable
distribution among the North American population. For example, the V people represent
approximately 16.3 percent of humankind. Since most people display a pair of temperaments,
the pairs’ distribution relative to V, which include V, could be our focus (PV, AV, VF), except this
paper lacks the space to elaborate on such details.
Evolutionary Path of the Enterprise
Companies evolve from creation to success and on to desolation in a predictable way. At each of the
ten stages of the corporate life cycle, 1 one can identify a different set of temperamental characteristics
of the enterprise made up by its combined personnel and its chosen strategies.
As was noted before, we need all of P, A, V, and F to be successful. Therefore, it should not surprise the
reader to learn that at the apex of business success (Excellence), the corporate characteristic blend is
PAVF, all strong, and all equal.
When a company shifts from Excellence to the next stage, Contentment, the PAVF profile shifts to
PAVF; that is, the company’s decline is accompanied by a drop in V, Visioning (or innovation). The
company has stopped listening. This is usually because success leads many people to develop big heads:
they become arrogant and carry a sense of knowing it all. “Nobody can tell me anything. Look at how
great I am!”
The next stage on the downward slope, Nobility, has V decline even more (as well as harboring the start
of the decline in P), a result that is written as PAVF.
If there is no wakeup call, the company moves on to the next stage of decay, namely the Scapegoat
stage, where finger-pointing, hiding information, and butt-covering are rampant. With a characteristic
of PA_F, the Scapegoat company has entirely lost its V, its ability to innovate. As well, it is no longer as productive; nor is it as friendly as before.
Applying this Information to the Original Point – Innovation
First, when a company sits at the Contentment stage, and in the declining stages beyond, it views
innovation as a disease it cannot handle. Unfortunately, in the last stage of a company’s evolution
toward its demise, all the scientists, engineers, and managers with V (innovative) characteristics have
long departed, since they were not appreciated; they felt they could not exist in a place where their
ideas were dismissed even before they got off the ground – and management thought their ideas were
Thus, if one is trying to get the message of innovation across to corporations, it will fall on deaf ears for a
third to half of all enterprises, specifically those wallowing in the declining stages of: Contentment,
Nobility, Scapegoat, and Sluggishness. The Sluggishness stage (_A_ _), which was not mentioned
before, defines nearly all government levels most of which can exist only by subsidies (i.e., taxes). Many
government levels are dominated by bureaucracy (A). Our experience is that the rare Visionaries within
government frequently attempt to introduce leading ideas only to meet persistent resistance and foot-dragging.
The second point that innovators will need to contend with is the attitude carried by the public at large
as described by the fact that only a 16.3 percent distribution of the population carries the V (Visionary,
The common feature of all firms that die is a lack of innovation. The importance of introducing systemic
methodologies for innovation is beyond question – and long overdue. As one sets about to introduce
the importance of innovation in your company, one has to appreciate the pair of “natural” resistors one
will encounter: (a) companies that are in the declining half of their life cycles lack interest in V, and (b) a
large percentage of the population lacks V.
What an uphill battle! But it must be fought to survive.
1 Corporate life cycles were first described in “Corporate Lifecycles,” Ichak Adizes, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1988, and expanded upon in “Saving the Enterprise,” William E. Caswell, General Store Publishing House, Renfrew, ON, 2008.