The Post Sports Live crew debates which members of the Redskins' front office and which players should stay or go before next season. (Post Sports Live/The Washington Post)

An NFL player’s chief commodity and source of earnings is his body, and he has only so many bone-breaking efforts contained in it. Would you invest your savings in a company run by Dan Snyder and Bruce Allen? No, you wouldn’t. Of course not. So why would the players? This is what is wrong with Washington’s football club, why there are so many losses and whiffed tackles. It’s very basic and purely transactional. There is a gnawing doubt inside the club whether the effort is worth it.

A lot of thought and literature has been devoted to how to transform a losing culture into a winning one. Management experts define culture as the shared psychology in a working environment, which sets habits and defines an organization’s identity. “The only thing of real importance that leaders do is to create and manage culture,” says Edgar Schein, former MIT professor of management and author of the standard textbook “Organizational Culture and Leadership.” The trouble with the leaders in Washington, Snyder and Allen, is that one is an amateur and the other is a phony. The culture they’ve created is not just a losing one but a laughingstock. This is why the team can seem so hapless, unprofessional and slapstick, why they snatch comedy from the jaws of defeat.

There already has been one firing in Jim Haslett, and there may be more, but it’s a sure sign of amateurism to believe that all you have to do to change a culture is make some heads roll. “Just changing a coach isn’t going to do it,” says author-consultant Jon Katzenbach, a senior global adviser at the management firm Strategy&. To really make a change, you have to expose the “discrepancies” between the stated values of an organization and its actual behavior, Schein teaches. Think about how many discrepancies there are between what people say within the franchise and what they actually do.

In fact, when is the last time you heard a coherent expression of a company value from anybody at the Ashburn headquarters, much less saw it carried out?

There is lip service to tradition and loyalty — there have been seven coaching changes in 15 years. Which explains Jay Gruden’s demeanor, that odd combination of bite and fatalism. Players are pursued, seduced, petted, berated, betrayed, swept away and brushed aside. It’s no mystery why there are continual miscues, penalties and missed assignments; their competitive instincts are at war with an is-this-really-worth-it sense of self-preservation.

The Dallas Cowboys blew out the Redskins, 44-17, in the final game of the season. The Washington Post's Gene Wang and Scott Allen break down the loss and discuss who should stay and who should go before next season. (Randolph Smith/The Washington Post)

If you had to sum up Snyder’s organizational philosophy, it would be this: Stability is for wimps. Year after year, he commits one dictatorial error after the next, piling self-deceit on self-deceit as he tells fans success is close. His style is a cross between a cat caught in a yarn and a moth banging at a windowpane.

As for Allen, he is such a public relations puppet you can practically see the jerking motion when he moves. At a dodging, evasive news conference Wednesday, Allen made one thing clear: The team’s problems have nothing to do with him. “We’re winning off the field,” he said. Not a breath of doubt ruffled a lock of his sprayed hair as he said it.

This is the culture of Washington’s football team, and it comes straight from the top: self-satisfaction for doing absolutely nothing of merit.

Allen is right about one thing. Washington is indeed “winning off the field” — if the metric of success is fiscally gouging fans while offering a perfectly horrible on-the-field product. Over the course of an execrable 4-12 season, the game-day experience at FedEx Field was the fourth-most expensive in the NFL, according to the annual Team Marketing Report. Parking prices were second highest ($57.50) in the entire NFL. A team hat cost $30 — 10 bucks more than a Dallas Cowboys hat. The average price for a premium seat was $375.32, which was $116 more than a premium seat for the Baltimore Ravens and $158 more than for the Philadelphia Eagles.

As fullback Darrel Young was cleaning out his locker for the offseason this week, he asked rhetorically, “Are we trying to be football players, or are we trying to make money?” Nobody summed up the club’s paycheck culture better than that.

There is only one way things can change in Washington. (Unless fans decide to break Snyder, force him to sell by staying away until the team’s debt service is more than its operating income.) Snyder would have to listen, really listen, to his staffers and his players. Not to his pets and his stars and top jersey sellers, either, but to those who he has often disregarded and disrespected, the rank and file who show up for work every day and manage to do a professional job in an unprofessional environment. He would have to ask them, “What are the three or four behaviors you consistently see in this club that need to change?”

According to Katzenbach, in every organization there are critical informal leaders further down the chain who, if they’re properly empowered and energized, can help create a turnaround. They may not have the most exalted titles or salaries, either. They are “people respected not for their position but for who they are and the kind of interactions they have with their peers,” Katzenbach says.

“Who are the informal leaders on the team right now?” Katzenbach asks. “Who do members of the team respect? You look for people who generate that respect, even without a hierarchical position. There have to be some of those informal leaders inside the team, and I’d be trying to figure out who they are. And to get some help from them in converting this sense of give-up.”

For too long, no one has trusted the basic setup of the organization. So many flatterers and yes men survive while the truth tellers get offed or ignored, and every three or four years everyone gets fired and the club starts from scratch again. Step one for Snyder is to identify some real leaders, not just enablers. And to convince them he’s not out to waste their best efforts and earning years.