27 June 2021

Season 2, Episode 23. Culture by Design with Céline Williams

In this episode, I speak with Céline Williams to discuss everything culture-related. How do we start leading our organizations with culture by design, not by default? 

Céline Williams (ACC, CCUG) is an international speaker and the founder of reVisionary, a boutique consulting firm providing executive coaching, leadership development, and culture services to human-focused businesses around the world. 

Céline has almost 20 years of experience working with growing organizations to help them navigate change and build leadership capacity and is the trusted advisor to leaders and executives in a variety of industries. She is sought after for her expertise in accelerating team performance, designing culture, managing transformation, and facilitating effective communication and in 2020 she won the award for Best Culture Design Specialist from Corporate Vision for her body of work. She also has her own leadership podcast called Leading Through Crisis. 

[00:16] Culture by Design, Not by Default 


  • Culture is often a place where companies struggle. A common mistake companies make is to create pieces and programs to develop their employees, but they don’t have the culture to back it up or put it into action as effectively as would benefit the whole company.

  • Culture is happening in every organization, whether you’re aware of it or not. You can either let your culture happen by default or design it, and be very intentional in the approach to the execution of and creation and maintenance of and whatever others you want to say off the culture.

[02:34] How Do You Design an Immovable Culture?       

  • Culture is not dependent on one person. If everyone else is committed to the way things are already being done, there's zero chance that a single person can influence anything enough to make a significant difference. 

  • Figure out what’s working well in the culture of the company. Ask questions like 

    • What do we want to do more of how is that happening right now? 

    • How is this being affected and who is being affected by it? 

    • Where's the influence coming from? 

    • What is the worst behavior we are accepting?

      • Our culture does not come from the best behavior because of how easy it is to be on our best behavior when times are good. 

      • When poop hits the fan, the worst behavior that we accept is actually how our culture is defined. That is the defining point of our culture.

  • Normalizing toxic culture by excusing bad behavior due to talent 

[09:53]  Out with the Old, In with the New

  • Moving out of the Command and Control Era and into an Era of Human-Focused culture

    • Command and Control: tends to put product and profit at the center, with people as a means to that end

    • Human-Focused: putting people at the center of what you’re doing 


[12:43] Who Owns the Culture? 

  • Think of culture as a sandbox with 

    • The business responsible for building the sandbox

    • Everyone individually is responsible for playing inside the sandbox in ways that allow them to play fairly and equitably and enjoy themselves as much as possible with the other people in that sandbox

  • Ideally, the WHOLE company owns the culture 

  • Can you measure culture? 

    • While you can use employee engagement surveys or leadership satisfaction surveys, a lot of measurement is more qualitative, than quantitative 

    • The longer-term results of things

[27:46] Final Words   


  • Céline’s final thoughts

    • Wherever you are, you can impact the culture and your experience of the culture around you

  • Follow Céline. Links below  

Key Quotes:

“Culture is happening in any organization. Once you have about five people, it is happening no matter what, whether you are being intentional about it or not. Culture is being created when people are relating to each other.” - Céline Williams

“You can either have culture happen without any kind of intentionality behind it; That’s culture by default. Or you can sit down and be very intentional in the approach to the execution, creation, and maintenance of the culture.” - Céline Williams

“Our culture does not come from the best behavior. Because in the best of times, it's really easy to be on our best behavior. But when poop hits the fan, the worst behavior that we accept is actually how our culture is defined.” - Céline Williams

Connect with my guest:

You can follow Céline on LinkedIn, Instagram, and her website https://www.Revisionary.ca

Listen to Leading Through Crisis on Apple Podcasts   

Today's SPONSORSHIP is brought to you by Territory Global. You can connect with us on Instagram, and Twitter or visit our website territory.co Join the work forward movement! 

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