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E97 | How To Use The Culture Canvas with Gustavo Razzetti

These are uncertain times, and now more than ever, the success of your organisation can literally come down to its culture. 

But what if you don’t have a company culture (that you know of) or maybe you’re wondering how to implement your ideal company culture, wonder no more. 

Today’s guest, Gustavo Razzetti is not only a culture practitioner, but he’s spent the last 20 years helping teams work smarter and faster, together, partnering with clients to design fearless workplace cultures, unlocking the whole team’s potential and giving that organisation a competitive advantage. 

Gustavo has amalgamated all of his company culture knowledge and distilled it down into creating an easy to use and easy to implement culture tool, the Culture Canvas, an open framework that makes culture actionable.

If you have any questions about it, or if you’re curious how to put the Culture Canvas into practice, what elements of it need to be contiguous with those you already have in place, how to surface the Canvas, how to share it and make it easy to live every day, as well as how to ensure that your hard work implementing your ideal company culture isn’t lost, this is one episode you don’t want to miss. 

“Culture is something fluid, now, it’s not one thing. It’s not something that you do once and that’s it.”

On today’s podcast:

  • What Culture Canvas is
  • How to implement the different elements of it
  • Hiring for culture fit
  • Aligning sub-team culture and company culture
  • Surfacing norms and rules
  • Creating psychological safety 


Creating Company Culture Using The Culture Canvas with Gustavo Razzetti

Gustavo Razzetti has spent 20 years working with clients to develop and design fearless workplace cultures that give organisations the competitive edge, ensuring everyone in the organisation pulls together, unlocking the full potential of the whole team. 

Gustavo has taken all of this experience and distilled it down to create an easy to implement Culture Canvas – an open framework that makes culture actionable. 

Who is the Culture Canvas for? 

It’s for organisations who want to achieve a better work-life balance without losing productivity. It’s for those managers who want to reshape their existing culture and come to better working agreements. It’s for those teams who struggle with working distributed, remotely and/or in multiple time zones. 

The Culture Canvas has 10 blocks that need to be filled in, and each block has a series of questions to help you and your team find the right answers. And here’s the thing, there is no one-size fits all. The Culture Canvas is a framework that will fit around you, because culture is fluid.  

“Culture Canvas is a simple to use tool that helps you capture the culture of your company in one page. It could be the actual state, but also it helps you design where you’re going to go with your culture.  Because the moment you map it, it helps you understand the things that are working, but also the ones that are not.”

And while the template is fairly easy to understand, sometimes it helps to know a little about how others have filled it in. 


“We started with meetings because meetings are how teams get things done. They can be really efficient, or they can be a waste of time. If you’re from outer space, and you join a meeting of any company, you immediately gonna capture the culture.” 

Meetings easily demonstrate a company’s culture and how a team works – are people participating? Are people showing up on time? Do they have a clear goal? Are they working together? Or are they just fighting together? Can they address the issues that they have on the team or are they avoiding conflict? 

Psychological safety is also going to be apparent in meetings – do people feel able to speak up? 

“You cannot have a successful culture if people don’t feel safe to speak up, share their opinions, but most importantly challenge the status quo, challenging their boss saying, ‘Hey, I don’t agree’, because we need to hear every voice, not just the ones that are aligned with the company.”


Purpose is the beating heart of any organisation. It’s what drives the energy and rhythm of a company. 

“The important thing about our model is not only do you need to have a purpose, but you need to live it. I mean, the purpose needs to hurt at some point or if it doesn’t hurt you, it’s because you don’t have a true purpose.”


Values show what you really stand for. 

“The template challenges people to see whether the values they’ve written down are actually the values that they live by, or the ones that they aspire to be, you know, like, we might all want to be fitter and healthier and thinner and better looking. But you know, it doesn’t matter how much we want to be, unless we do something about it, we’re never going to get there.”

Sub-team culture

The culture within the different teams of an organisation can be different, as long as they are all aligned to the core values and the organisation’s purpose. 

“I think that many companies don’t realise that subcultures are even more important than the organisational one, because we are tribal as human beings. We’re tribal by nature. We have a deeper sense of belonging to the smaller groups.”

Surfacing norms and rules

There are two types of rules, first is the explicit no-nos, and then there the unwritten rules. Netflix, for example, has an unlimited vacation policy. People assume that if employees can take as much holiday as they want, they’ll never come back to work. But research shows, only 3% of people break this unwritten rule. 

How do you surface decision making?

Figuring out who makes decisions can be tough. But you don’t have to be rigid on it. For example, Airbnb has two methods: one for regular times and one for during crisis times. 

At Netflix, people are given complete freedom to make their own decisions, but they can bounce ideas off their managers if they wish, not to get permission but for perspective. But for bigger projects, they assign a captain, a project manager who is in charge. 


You cannot have a conversation once a year about feedback. Annual performance appraisals don’t work. 

“I always say imagine that you’re crossing the street with a friend or a colleague, and the person is going across the street and a car is coming. And instead of saying, ‘Hey, watch out’, you just stay silent and let the car run over – ‘it wasn’t review time, so I didn’t tell you, I’m gonna wait until next year’.”

Feedback shouldn’t be from the top-down, it needs to happen across the whole organisation, regular peer to peer feedback needs to be encouraged, to create an open culture. 

Psychological safety

“It’s about making sure that people feel safe. I think that many, many people confuse psychological safety with trust. But trust is a two way street between two people. Psychological safety is something that the whole group, not just the manager is providing.”

How do you build psychological safety in your organisation? Gustavo advises managers to begin by reading any of Amy Edmondson’s work or Project Aristotle.

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