How to change a culture, Detroit Lions edition

The success of Wood’s business strategies combined with a new respect for what the team does on the field signals an improved corporate culture others have noticed.

Andrew Brandt, who ran the Green Bay Packers from 1999-2008, is among those who have noticed the change.

“There’s a sense of more stability, more professionalism,” he said.

What’s critical for the Lions — aside from scoring touchdowns — is to ensure all parts of the organization work well together, from business operations to coaching to scouting to salary cap management, Brandt said. Lack of synergy can cripple an organization.

“You see this with a lot of teams, where the football people don’t interact with the business side because they don’t have a relationship,” said Brandt, who is director of the Jeffrey S. Moorad Center for the Study of Sports Law at Villanova University’s law school in Philadelphia and writes for Sports Illustrated‘s MMQB football site.

Wood said making the right hires, people who embrace the team’s new culture of accountability, has ensured a smoother-running operation.

“We bring in people that buy into that culture and embrace it,” he said. “It’s hard to see it as it’s happening. The best definition of culture sometimes is outside the organization.”

It’s also critical, Wood said, that everyone who works for the Lions understands that they’re working for one of America’s most notable business families.

“We talk not only about cultural change, but also results — both on the field and off the field. The kind of people who we hire to represent the organization also represent the Ford family. I had a pretty good sense of what the Ford family ethics and culture and expectations would be. That’s always in the back of my mind in discussions. I’m attuned to putting a very good reflection out there of the team and family.”

Some of Detroit’s current success is built on a foundation created under prior executives. Amy Trask, former CEO of the Oakland Raiders and now an analyst for CBS Sports, noted that the current positive perception of the Lions has roots in what prior regimes did in Detroit.

“While I certainly do not wish to diminish all that Martha Ford, Rod Wood and Bob Quinn have done or will do, I find it fascinating that many identify Matthew Stafford as one of the reasons for hopefulness for the Lions, yet still point to a recent ‘change in culture,'” she said via email. “Stafford was, of course, drafted while Tom Lewand was president and Martin Mayhew was the general…

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