How the State of Alaska Department of Revenue Used Data-Driven Decision-Making to Improve Organizational Culture, Morale, and Productivity

Using a combination of our proprietary Culture Mosaic and one-on-one interviews, gothamCulture conducted a comprehensive culture assessment to identify emergent themes and observations impacting the Tax Division of the State of Alaska Department of Revenue’s organizational culture, morale, and productivity.


The Tax Division of the State of Alaska Department of Revenue (AK DOR) sought to gain an in-depth understanding of their organizational culture and climate to identify areas of opportunity with respect to increasing levels of employee engagement and creating an environment in which team members are aligned and inspired to achieve the Department’s shared vision and strategy. To help drive decision-making and targeted interventions, AK DOR sought a skilled and experienced vendor to plan and execute a scalable organizational process to provide stakeholders with a detailed understanding of the current climate and culture of the organization, along with perceptions of team members in their Juneau and Anchorage offices.

The AK DOR’s mission is vital to the State of Alaska in that the Division invests, collects, and distributes funds for public purpose. The Department has approximately 400 employees across four core divisions that implement their expansive mission. The Department of Revenue strives to create a workplace with professional career employees who are highly engaged with the Department’s mission and vision.

The Need

Within the Department of Revenue, the Tax Division of approximately 80 employees had become increasingly short-staffed over time. As the main income generator for the State, this resulted in added pressure on Tax Division personnel and leadership. Combined with a decrease in individual productivity, the Department came under increased pressure from the state government to generate more revenue for the State.

AK DOR stakeholders wanted to understand the underlying issues impacting the culture, morale, and productivity throughout the Department. They also wanted to understand what could be done to create a collaborative work environment and increase individual productivity.

The Intervention

gothamCulture (gC) deployed our proprietary Culture Mosaic assessment to understand the underlying conditions contributing to the AK DOR organizational culture. This survey was deployed over a period of two weeks and received a 93% response rate (n=82). During July and August 2021, our team also conducted 36 one-on-one in-person and virtual interviews across the Department’s different teams, locations, and levels of seniority. The gC team then conducted a combined quantitative and qualitative data analysis approach to analyze the data. We used quantitative analysis to understand trends in the data and used our advanced qualitative data analytics capability to identify emergent themes and observations to present to AK DOR stakeholders. The themes identified from the data surrounded communication, psychological safety, the AK DOR Excise Group, decision-making, and tools/technology.

Using this data, the gC team facilitated design thinking sessions using a collaborative virtual interface to help the client make sense of the themes and data points while brainstorming potential solutions.

The Impact

The gC team identified next steps and areas of focus for AK DOR to consider.

Based on the results of the data collection process, analysis, and subsequent conversations with the client, the gC team conducted follow-on work to design and facilitate informational debriefs with each group leader within the Tax Division. The goal of these leader debriefs was to facilitate a sensemaking dialogue with group leaders using data that was specific to their particular group. Afterwards, the gC team then facilitated an action planning session with all of the group’s team members. The goal of the action planning session was for each group to identify and prioritize specific actions to contribute to the overall goal of increased employee engagement and productivity in the Tax Division.

The group-level action planning sessions included an activity to rank the previously identified improvement areas in order to prioritize subsequent intervention efforts. Each group went through the prioritization exercise, and it became apparent that AK DOR’s vision, mission, and core values statements needed to be updated and published for the Department. The gC team then advised AK DOR senior leadership on best practices to create a unified mission statement, vision statement, and list of core values from which the groups within the department could develop their own paths forward while ensuring their efforts were consistently supporting the department’s overall mission and goals.

The Future

The AK Tax Division Commissioner met with the gC team to discuss options for providing leader development and executive coaching support to the Department’s leadership in order to best support them as they lead the changes across the unit.

About gothamCulture

gothamCulture is a management consulting firm that draws on our associate’s comprehensive expertise and experience in the areas of culture, leadership, and people strategy to provide innovative solutions and client-service excellence. Our work is guided by our deeply held shared values, including a commitment to each other and our clients, unwavering integrity, the maniacal pursuit of excellence, relatable expertise, and authentic community. For more information, visit