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ally more driven by the preservation of a department rather than

the thriving of the organization. And that makes sense! In absence

of a clear vision and a clear set of values and accepted behaviors, it

is human nature for employees to default to behaviors that create a

subculture that will help them preserve their own domain and jobs.

Jeremy Gershfeld, founder of Corporate Culture & Communica-

tion firm Quartet Approach



that it is not easy to get a concrete grasp of a company’s corporate

culture. A analogy Jeremy likes to use to describe corporate culture is

the unique way one’s own family might do things and interact with

each other. For example, think about visits with your family over the

holidays. At a large family gathering, you might notice how family

group habits can distort your own behavior. You might observe, over,

say, Thanksgiving dinner, how different members of the family do

things very differently, and how this affects the group’s behavior as a

whole, especially when the full group is brought together.

Of course, the stakes are different in a professional environment,

where individual and group goals are different than getting along

with your relatives for a few days. However, the culture still exists,

and the group is often bound by its social dynamics.

The Lasting Value of a Strong Corporate Culture

Harvard Business School Professors Jim Heskett and Earl Sasser

and coauthor Joe Wheeler assert in their new book, 

The Owner-

ship Quotient

, that

strong, adaptive cultures can foster innovation,

productivity, and a sense of ownership among employees and cus-

tomers. They also outlast any individual charismatic leader.

While all these benefits are highly relevant for lottery agencies

the last one is particularly salient, as lottery Executive Directors will

change every few years and each new ED will bring their own sets

of priorities, values and styles of doing business.

As Catherine McIntyre-Velky, a project management and process

consultant who has worked with First-The-Trousers on a process

optimization project for the Arizona State Lottery says:

“One cannot

under estimate the power of culture and its influence on productivity,

especially in an environment that deals with regulations. A good strong

corporate culture is as much a part of the process as the process itself. In

order to successfully navigate deadlines and approvals, you must be able

to speak the currency and understand the communication exchange.”

“Your Culture is Your Brand”

—Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos

The idea that corporate culture is a strategic asset has become in-

creasingly popular over the last few years. The most shining example,

of course, is Zappos: the world’s largest online shoe store, known

amongst other things for its “Wow” customer service and its philoso-

phy of delivering happiness to both employees and customers.

Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh captures his beliefs in this quote: Our

belief is that if you get the culture right most of the other stuff

like great customer service or building a great long-term brand or

empowering passionate employees and customers will happen on

its own. He should know: his company was acquired by Amazon in

2009 for $1.2 billion.

“Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast”

This quote is from Peter Drucker, management consultant and

business thought leader whose writings contributed to the philo-

sophical and practical foundations modern companies perhaps

more than anyone else. He argues that having a strong corporate

culture is actually more important for a company’s success that a

well thought through strategic plan. In the same vein, Harvard

Business School Professor Emeritus James L. Heskett (and author

of “The Culture Cycle”)

finds that as much as half of the differ-

ence in operating profit between organizations can be attributed

to effective cultures.

As such, improving ones corporate culture should be seen as an

opportunity for an industry, like the lottery, that struggles with op-

erating costs growing faster than sales and the resulting pressure on

profits and revenue contribution.

But, Lottery Agencies Face Unique

Cultural Challenges

Lottery agencies face two unique challenges with regard to their

corporate culture:

1 Lottery agencies are government agencies and therefore cannot

incentivize their employees based on their performance like a

private organization would. This in turn has a direct impact on

employee morale.

2 Every few years a new Executive Director is appointed to head

the lottery agency directly impacting the agency’s culture in ways

that may be surprising. Many of the lottery employees we’ve talk-

ed to across the country over the years describe their tenure with

the agency not in numbers of years (“I’ve worked here for 15

years”) but by the number of Executive Directors they’ve worked

under (“I’ve had 9 Executive Directors”). This point matters be-

cause of the crucial role the corporate leaders have in defining

and implementing the organizations culture.

These challenges can leads to “dysfunctions” within a lottery

agency that directly impact performance, employee motivation and