Corporate CPR Episode 50: What it Means to Have a Fearless Culture

August 9, 2022

On today’s show, we discuss what it means to have a fearless culture in your organization.

Gustavo Razzetti is CEO and founder of Fearless Culture, a culture design consultancy that helps teams do the best work of their lives. For more than 20 years, Razzetti has helped leaders from Fortune 500s, startups, nonprofits, and everything in between on every continent but Antartica.

Gustavo is also the creator of the Culture Design Canvas, a framework used by thousands of teams and organizations across the world to map, assess, and design their culture.

In addition to his consulting work with clients, Gustavo regularly speaks with leaders and teams about culture change, teamwork, and hybrid workplaces. His coaching and tools have helped countless executives and teams develop work environments where people collaborate to accelerate individual and collective performance.

A prolific writer and author of four books on culture change, Gustavo’s insights have been featured in The New York Times, Psychology Today, Forbes, BBC, and Fortune, among others.

Gustavo loves to share his knowledge and advice to help make successful leaders and a great work culture.

Key Takeaways:

What does it mean to have a fearless culture?

A fearless culture is not the absence of fear. Fear should be a signal, rather than a barrier. We want a culture where we are courageous despite fear.

Cultures are difficult to influence and change. How do we go about designing this culture?

Design doesn’t mean control. Human nature is to resist control. What we can do is define certain parameters or guidelines that people can operate freely within. 

How can you turn around a toxic culture?

First, define what pieces are truly toxic. Toxicity should be addressed at the senior level. What behaviors are we modeling or tolerating? Consistently identify the behaviors we reward vs the behaviors we punish. The rewarded behaviors should mirror the stated company values.

How is the process different in a larger organization?

You want to codify the culture you want on paper. I have a tool called Culture Design Canvas (link below) to help get this accomplished. Then, evaluate throughout the company how we are doing. Identify the issues and act on them.

What are some of the biggest challenges companies face in implementing their design?

  • Most leaders are not taught to build culture, so they are unprepared. 
  • There is often a gap between what leaders see and think about their culture and the reality that employees experience.
  • It’s a process that takes a lot of effort and time.

How can you close the gap between a leader’s perception of the culture and the reality?

Leaders are busy and interact with only a small group of people in the organization.

Smart leaders will create a way to get quality feedback from the entire organization to get a clear picture of the existing culture, both initially and ongoing.

How do you lay the groundwork for a culture where employees feel free to make issue known?

Create psychological safety so employees know they won’t be punished for expressing concerns.

How do you create accountability?

Human nature is to resist orders from authority. Giving employees more freedom promotes employee ownership and actually nurtures individual accountability. Employees that feel trusted will make better decisions for the good of the company.

How does influencing your culture change when talking about remote organizations?

Remote not Distant is a book I just wrote about the remote workforce. Remote workers value freedom and flexibility. Collaboration time needs to be scheduled and prioritized with remote workers. In this scenario, the office will be an off-site for collaboration and building culture, not the place where most of the work gets done.

How can a company recreate the organic “water cooler” experience for remote workers?

Intentionally bring people together in such a way that you encourage interaction without some of the negative aspects of “water cooler” conversation. Some options would be:

  • Organizing a company community outreach event creates some of that magic you are looking for and creates goodwill in the community. 
  • Organizing optional interest-based activities that employees can do together.
  • Celebrations for key moments like a project kick-off.

Connect with Gustavo Razzetti



LinkedIn: razzetti/


Twitter: @gusrazzetti

Link to Book:  Get your copy of “Remote, Not Distant”

Some additional links:

Free chapter of Remote, Not Distant
Free download of Culture Design Canvas

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