The Five Ps is a model that depicts a system-wide view of an organization. You can use the Five Ps to understand your organizational culture and to use culture to manage change.
The Building a Culture of Distinction program is a four-step process for bringing needed change to an organization. Use this process to guide you in using culture to drive change.
The steps of the organizational change process are as follows:
1. Define the Core Culture of your organization
- Define your organization’s central principles—its Purpose and Philosophy—that describe the organization’s contribution to society and distinctive character.
- Build on that identity-defining foundation by establishing the strategic Priorities that will enable your organization to compete and thrive.
2. Audit for alignment
- Audit your Internal and External Practices and Projections to evaluate their alignment with the Core Culture–the Purpose, Philosophy, and Priorities.
- Calculate your Alignment Index and provide recommendations to improve alignment.
3. Develop a plan to improve alignment
- Develop a Core Culture Alignment Plan to improve alignment of Practices and Projections with the Core Culture.
- Set measures to improve alignment.
4. Implement the plan and monitor success
- Execute the plan to weave the Core Culture principles throughout the organization so everyone lives by the principles that will generate success.
When conducting an Organizational Culture Assessment, use these questions as a guide when collecting information through interviews, open-ended surveys and/or focus groups. During interviews, be sure to ask follow-up questions to enrich the information you collect. Encourage examples and stories.
Although the questions are designed to reveal particular attributes of the Core Culture, you will find that the responses are not always clear cut. Often people’s responses do not directly answer the question. Be open to what the information you collect actually reveals. For example, a Philosophy question might yield a Priority. You must understand the differences between a Philosophy and a Priority so that you classify the response in the most appropriate attribute category. Review the explanation of the Five Ps to ensure you understand these concepts.
Some of these questions sound repetitive. Often, using a slightly different word or phrase in a question will yield either confirming or new, insightful responses.
Below are some questions to consider asking employees in your process for conducting an organizational culture assessment.
- What words would you use to describe this organization? Give examples of each word.
- What is the purpose of this organization?
- Why is the work you do important? (Ask this question up to five times in an interview.)
- How are you making a difference to society through your work?
- What is your contribution to society through your work?
- What special attribute does the founder/leader possess that has influenced the character of the organization? Explain.
- Describe the ideals that drove the founding of this organization.
- What value is fundamental and distinctive to this organization since its founding? Give examples.
- What makes this organization feel different or unique from our competitors?
- Describe the personality or character of this organization.
- What is central to who we are as an organization that should never change?
- What should we focus on and pay attention to?
- To effectively achieve our strategy, what principles should guide how we work? Explain.
- What key values, if followed, would help the organization compete and thrive?
An organizational culture assessment is a process for defining and shaping the culture of your company. The outcome is a well-defined set of Core Culture principles and values (the vital Purpose, the distinctive Philosophy, and the strategic Priorities) that center the organization and provide the criteria for all employee practices.
If you’ve never conducted an organizational culture assessment, now is the time to consider it. There are several options for conducting a Core Culture Assessment. Choose the option that works best for your organization.
- Option 1: Conduct a Comprehensive Core Culture Assessment. This comprehensive culture-defining process requires the support of a consultant with this specialty. A trained professional has an outside view of the company which is often clearer than the perspective of a company employee. First, collect data (see sample questions) through interviews and open-ended surveys and/or focus groups. Next, triangulate the data with a closed-ended survey (based on the analyzed data) for all employees. Then, conduct a facilitated session with the leadership team to review data collection results and decide the Core Culture.
- Option 2: If you cannot afford an outside consultant, consider using this option. First, conduct a Core Culture Assessment Workshop with the leadership team using the Building a Culture of Distinction workbooks. The facilitator will use the text: Building a Culture of Distinction: Facilitator Guide for Defining Organizational Culture and Managing Change. Participants will use the Participant Workbook. Next, collect views from all employees through a closed-ended survey (based on the core culture options that came from conducting the workshop). Then, conduct a follow-up facilitated session with the leadership team to review the closed-ended survey results and decide the Core Culture.
- Option 3: This option works well in a relatively small organization where employees will feel comfortable sharing their views openly. First, conduct a Core Culture Assessment Workshop with the leadership team using the Building a Culture of Distinction workbooks. The Facilitator Guide will be used by the leader of the process. Workshop participants will use the Building a Culture of Distinction: Participant Workbook. Then, have an open session with all employees to discuss and alter or confirm results.
- Option 4: If the organization has fewer than 25 employees, you might consider conducting a Core Culture Assessment Workshop with all employees. The Facilitator Guide will be used by the leader of the process. Workshop participants will use the Building a Culture of Distinction: Participant Workbook.
An organization that has not taken the time to define its core culture principles lacks a clearly-defined identity. And with that lack of clarity, the organization will struggle to be successful. It will experience inadequate performance and unattained goals. In successful organizations, employees are united in shared principles.
Take the time to assess your organizational core culture. It will jump start a process for positive change. Contact me for information on the best way to conduct an organizational culture assessment for your organization.
When things are not going well—for example, good employees are leaving, commitment seems lacking, productivity is not up to par—an organization needs to make some changes. But where do you start? Unless the remedy is clear, rather than making isolated changes, the smarter strategy is to examine the culture of the organization.
When you incorporate change through a culture-defining and alignment process, the organization clarifies the desired values, reviews current practices, and creates a plan for more effectively living those core culture principles. Through this process, expectations for behavior are understood. Any behaviors that are not in sync with the core values are seen as a gap that must quickly be remedied.
Many believe that organizational culture change is a long and involved process. But when employees participate in defining and molding the culture to enhance the organization’s ability to succeed, then the changes that emerge are easier to implement.
Use organizational culture change to bring needed change to your company. Let change management really be a process of defining your core culture, auditing your Practices and Projections, and executing a plan to live the core culture principles and values better each and every day. Bring change from the inside out. Treat your organization as a system. Link organization change to the culture that is valued.