Big Ideas from Seasons 1 & 2 of THRUUE’s CultureGap Podcast

In 2017, THRUUE launched a podcast interviewing leaders about their experiences closing the gap between strategy and culture. Recently, Tim Kuppler, Director of Culture and Organizational Development at Human Synergistics, sat down with CultureGap podcast host Daniel Forrester and executive producer Becca Conary for a reflective interview on what they’ve learned from leaders around the world who seek to close the gap between culture and strategy.

In the Best of the Culture Gap webinar included at the end of this post, Becca and Daniel focus on critical ideas from their interviews, including how to best communicate culture change, quantifying culture and behavior to inform the case for change, #MeToo, millennials in the workforce, and much more. They also add personal reflections and insights based on their experiences advising and supporting organizations through cultural shifts. Examples of such ideas include the following:

Southwest Airlines

The Dallas-based air carrier knew from the beginning that culture and strategy were never separate, and that culture always had a seat at the table. It was a top priority for Herb Kelleher, who believed culture to be a key differentiator for the organization.

Ginger Hardage, former SVP of Culture and Communications at Southwest Airlines, shared: “We didn’t believe there could be a gap, because your strategy is worthless unless you have your people behind it.”

Colonial Williamsburg

Attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, Colonial Williamsburg is a living-history museum that also provides hotel accommodations for visitors. But market disruptions in hospitality tasked CEO Mitchell Reiss with examining what change itself means while navigating several difficult decisions requiring clear thought and decisiveness.

Speak Up Culture

When it comes to making change happen and getting people involved, Shal Jacobovitz wants a speak-up culture. The serial CEO favors a workplace where you have the right and obligation to speak up without the fear of retribution. Whether it’s financial crisis or personal abuse, the ramifications when people have an obligation to dissent and don’t do so are often costly and far-reaching, affecting organizations, people and their families, and communities at large.

Colonel David Sutherland

At a point in time, the United States military was held in incredibly low regard, and Colonel David Sutherland was accountable for helping the United States Army identify and reselect its values. The values that were chosen, how they did it, and that it took them a long time to improve are central themes.


Fast-growing Chicago startup Uptake uses a multi-sensory approach to align values and appeal to people’s senses. In this way, SVP Kami Bond suggests one can describe the smells, sounds, and vibrations of culture—and discover some personalization.

Carly Fiorina

It’s rare to get an inside look at the difficult decisions that CEOs and senior leaders make. There are often controversial decisions with heated judgements from others who don’t always understand. Where strategy is about choice, not everyone will agree with that choice. Fiorina’s sharing of her personal experience is discussed and admired.

McChrystal Group

As Founder and a Partner of the McChrystal Group and a New York Times bestselling author, retired General Stanley McChrystal advises senior executives at multinational corporations on navigating complex change and building stronger teams. McChrystal’s idea of ‘agency’—that we are in this together—is a core theme. It’s delicate, but real: You have the trust of those with whom you work…until you do something to violate that trust.

Watch the webinar below for the full discussion with Tim Kuppler, Daniel Forrester, and Becca Conary.

The next season of CultureGap is in production and on target to be as thought-provoking as the first two, and we’re excited to share it with you soon. In the meantime, enjoy this insightful interview and check out our previously recorded episodes.

Sincere thanks from THRUUE to Human Synergistics for sharing CultureGap across their platform!

About the Author

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Daniel Forrester

Daniel Forrester, THRUUE founder and CEO, is an author, speaker, strategist, and expert in corporate culture with more than 20 years of experience who helps leaders drive transformative change. He has interviewed hundreds of top leaders in organizations, learning about the gaps that leaders confront head-on. Daniel is also a contributing writer for multiple publications, including FastCompany, Monster, BusinessWeek, WashingtonPost, and Entrepreneur, and he just launched his first podcast series, “The Culture Gap,” where he sits down with leaders across industries—both commercial and nonprofit—to learn how they are closing the gaps between their business visions and the culture of their organizations.