The 6 P’s Of Culture

Nothing influences your people’s experience and performance at work more than your organization’s culture. While you might be nodding your head in agreement, it’s sometimes difficult to break down what culture actually entails. 

At Culture Refinery, we look at culture as the collection of 6 separate parts: 

  1. Purpose
  2. Product
  3. Place
  4. Procedures
  5. Practices
  6. People

These Six P’s of Culture will help you and your organization evaluate your current culture and understand how each piece adds value so your people can contribute their best continuously.

Purpose

An organization’s purpose is a foundational component of its culture and the key to understanding its goals and the rationale for decisions leaders make. The purpose is often wrapped up in your mission, vision, strategy, and values. Those should be clearly outlined so everyone understands the shared goals they’re working toward. 

Your purpose is clear when people inside and outside your organization know what you stand for. If it isn’t clear, employees, customers, and partners can become confused and frustrated, and that kind of turmoil inevitably spreads. 

By having a purpose that is seen and understood at all levels of an organization and promoting it prominently where it matters, you can build a stronger bond and belief in the goals and practices of your organization. 

Product

Whether your product is a tangible object, a service, or a community change, what you offer should align with the culture that your organization is building. It should tap into the other “P’s” of culture, ensuring it’s contributing to the place you want to build, and the people who want to be in it.

As the direct reflection of who you are to the world beyond your doors, your product should embody your purpose, aligning with your organization’s values from how it’s conceived to how it’s produced and marketed. 

Place

Place is the atmosphere and environment that your organization is building in both the tangible and intangible sense. From the building where your team physically works to the energy of virtual meetings for remote employees, the idea of place determines whether the atmosphere is warm and welcoming or isolating the moment you arrive. It’s the sense of colleagues and clients wanting to be there or grinding their teeth through their smiles. 

Place is how people show up and where they’re interacting in all capacities. And, it’s what directly impacts your people’s psychology both inside the organization and out. Think about your first meeting within your organization. How did the people you encountered make you feel? Did it make you want to stay and get comfortable in the work that you were about to do? Or did you have an overwhelming urge to shrink and possibly leave? These are things to consider when approaching the topic of place in a cultural context.

Practice, Procedures, and Policies

These components work together in order to cement how an organization operates. Your organization’s purpose will become diluted or lost if your practices and procedures are not aligned with it. What’s the difference between the three? 

Policies are the documented standards each organization agrees to. They include the basics  of employee operations like vacation time, remote work options, and intolerance of racism. 

Procedures represent what’s supposed to be done as well as the checks and balances that are in place to ensure those procedures adhere to the policies. They’re the best-case scenarios for making things work smoothly and seamlessly. 

Practices are the way things are actually done. They’re the steps people take to create the organization’s product, the way in which the people communicate with each other, and the real way things are played out, seamless or not. They’re all the little nuanced pieces that occur when procedures meet real-world opportunities, obstacles, and relationships. 

At Culture Refinery, we would argue most organizations have a disconnect between their practices and procedures. If you were to compare the “on paper” steps to the “in reality” ones, chances are, they don’t match up, and certainly not line-by-line.

Why does this happen? It’s likely because the organization either creates unrealistic procedures or lacks a way to enforce the policies at hand. They settle for “this is how it’s been done” without realizing the implications of how the disconnect can disrupt the culture within the organization. Having effective policies to enforce the procedures ensures that the practice reflects what should be done and how it’s done. 

People

People are what make up your organization and they’re the most important part of the culture inside of it. Diversity both shapes your shared core values and guides individuals to understand how everyone should show up. 

To understand how to approach your organization’s diversity, first consider who is currently in your organization from the broadest sense of diversity possible. What are their backgrounds, culturally, personally, and professionally? What values do they bring to the table? What soft skills might certain people have that will help their teams? How do thought processes differ?  

Next, examine your recruitment process. How are you searching for new hires? Who are you aiming to add to your teams? What kind of innovations are you hoping to see from new members? The more diverse your team, the more successful you’ll be. 

Your organization’s people are also the biggest resource in determining what changes need to be made to build a better, stronger, more impactful culture. By listening to them and actively seeking their feedback on what changes need to be made, they can help to continuously revamp the culture so that it doesn’t stay stagnant and changes with the needs of the organization. 

Defining Your Culture

The Six P’s of culture all work together to define the organization. Combined they help foster an environment that an organization can be proud of and promote effectively. Culture works to everyone’s advantage when the people that make up the organization are proud of the work that they do, take pride in the product that they are producing, believe in the purpose, and feel welcomed and supported in the place where the work gets done.

How are your Six P’s? Are they aligned with what your organization deems important and building a culture you can be proud of?

At Culture Refinery, we believe that you either take what you get or you get what you make. Your organization has a culture, and the things you do as a team and as an individual influence that culture whether you mean it to or not. You can choose to strategically plan it and put it into intentional practice, or you can let it happen by chance. 

If you feel that one or more of the P’s might need adjustment to create the kind of culture you strive to have, click to schedule a call. Any one of our experts at Culture Refinery would be happy to sit down and figure out what those adjustments should be, and how to make them happen.

We want your culture to be the kind you and your people love. Let’s work together to make that happen.

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