In just 90 seconds, an online search about company culture can produce over 75 million web pages on the topic, and over 35,000 books on Amazon.

To create a culture at your company will take quite a bit longer, of course. You can't necessarily follow any single approach or tactic -- what might be ideal or in the mind of one business will surely be different for another.

That's why you have to dig deeper than reading a few books on the topic. It's why putting a foosball table in the lobby won't necessarily create what you need or envision.

Here's what culture looks like at my company, and how we've made it a part of our DNA and our business.

It starts with purpose.

At Simple Mills, we are here to positively impact the way food is made, enriching lives and bodies through delicious, convenient foods made from clean, nutritious ingredients. This is the first and most important component of our company and culture. Every piece, every person, must be centered on fueling our mission -- from hiring criteria, to the way we source ingredients, to the products we make.

We focus on the right priorities, at the right time, with the right resources.

This is particularly important. You're going to have conflicting responsibilities, competition for time and resources. We make prioritization our focus. We have "Top 5s" where each person at our company sets their most important priorities for the week. Not the urgent things, but the important things. As a result, we don't lose sight of our goals in the midst of demands, and we excel at efficiency.

We use quantitative data to drive our decisions.

We're an analytical bunch at Simple Mills. Every person in our organization values using data to make a decision or determine performance. We know how much we make from each marketing initiative, and we know what products drive the most revenue. We even use data to design our products. You don't have to be a technology company to be a data-driven business.

We are inquisitive and question the status quo - we ask why and if there is a better way.

If there isn't a good reason for doing something how others have done it, we don't do it. It's part of our culture to weigh our options and what's possible everyday. When starting the company, we asked why food ingredient lists were so long - and why items are used. For example, we questioned the use of gums in products. It turns out it's not needed, just a way to solve a problem - one we doubted the safety of (which later proved true). We found a way around it instead.

We strive for breakthrough success.

We want to see a large impact. We want to change the way food is made - and we truly believe it is possible. We won't rest until we've helped clean up the ingredient lists in grocery aisles and truly revamp the nutrition people get from food. This passion and mission is woven into every thread of the company. It's in what we do, how we work, whom we work with and the choices that we make.

We give direct and honest feedback about behavior and performance.

We don't avoid difficult conversations. We appreciate the opportunity to grow and share authentic interactions. It's encouraged in and out at our company - with our teams, vendors, partners, investors and customers. We also don't hide our failures. We work together to learn from and overcome our mistakes instead.

We respect ourselves, others, and the organization as a whole.

There is a respect and realization that everyone brings some value to the table, to our mission. I love when people bring ideas from different parts of the organization - a brand manager who has an idea for an R&D solution. A finance team member who has a marketing idea. We also recognize people's achievements and build them up. We give each other the opportunity to grow in the path we want to take and to succeed.

We promote and celebrate full lives.

With a bunch of overachievers, it's tough to live a "balanced" life - but we believe there is a way to fit it all in. We allow unconventional scheduling - someone coming into the office at 10am because they're training for a marathon, or taking off the afternoon to be at your son's school, but getting back online later after he's in bed. Our team works their butts off - but make it home to have dinner with their families.

We have fun.

Laughter and wackiness are welcome (even celebrated!) across the organization. A solid company needs more than just a fun environment. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't infuse a little fun in the mix. We host impromptu dance parties, have inside jokes. There are surprise birthdays and baby showers. Team dinners over wine in pajamas after a long tradeshow - it all contributes to a great place to work.

Published on: Mar 30, 2017