Corporations that perform well over long periods of time have typically learned how to maximize the performance of their people. They recognize that it is people who make good or bad decisions or who may even avoid making decisions. They strive to create a business environment where employees feel valued and are supported by effective directionpolicies, procedures, standards of performance, guidelines and toolsfor performing their work. These business environments are generally those in which people want to do their bestand are able to!How do companies achieve this type of high-performance culture? They start by embracing a corporate philosophy of "doing the right thing" in all business relationships. They encourage employees to make commitments to customersand then to deliver on those commitments. And they embrace a tolerance for a manageable level of mistakes, viewing them as learning opportunities for improvement. Finally, they capture the experiential knowledge of people from the successes and failures of delivering on those commitments and recycle that experience into revised business rules for the future.Over time, the productivity and efficiency of the workforce improves because: Experience is captured and shared with others. Old mistakes are avoided while new mistakes help train for the future. The company learns from its customers through the experience of its people. The knowledge is captured, recycled and institutionalized. Employees are motivated to challenge the "old" and reach for the "new." Business practices reflect the evolving needs of customers to changes in their businesses. Repetitive Innovation, developed by Stratner Company, is focused on incorporating continuous change as a natural aspect of business evolution, thereby helping to minimize the cost and impact of major business change initiatives.The Principles of Repetitive InnovationRepetitive innovation is: the concept of innovating new operating structures to support evolving changes in the business the idea of keeping your business practices current with the evolving needs of your business the objective of delivering improved productivity by eliminating management time spent in fighting business fires This is accomplished by implementing business rules according to two guiding principles: Ensuring the continuing adequacy of business rules, skills and tools for today's work procedures. Creating tomorrow's business rules today by changing the rules for the right business reasons.The result can be a dramatic improvement in the business value of people.The Business Value of PeopleFundamentally, there are five parameters of measuring business value. Employees' work contributes to one or more of the following business measures: Increased revenue Reduced cost Cost avoidance Regulatory compliance Fundamental to business futurity When people are measured against these business parameters, several things happen: They identify more with the company's business goals. They better understand how their work contributes to achievement of the company's goals. They take more pride in their work. They collectively raise the standards of business performance. The company gains the benefits of longevity and loyalty. Business PracticesWithout proper direction, both strategic and tactical, along with proper tools, people will struggle to achieve improved productivity and efficiency levels. Formal business practices can provide the necessary guidance by defining the business rules for performing work.Within the context of business practices, tomorrow's improvements in productivity come from learning how to achieve expert performance in the conduct of innovation.Experts perform work faster because they have learned how to do the work in a disciplined manner. Experts minimize unproductive time spent in correcting mistakes because they avoid making them. Experts teach their peers how to improve by sharing their experience of working under the same business rules.Consider the analogy of an orchestra. Without a musical score (business rules), the musicians would play in an undisciplined manner. Without separate sheets of music (guidelines), they would not have the direction of what to play and when. Without instruments (tools), they would not be able to perform. The same can be said of formal business practices for the workplace.Innovation: A Natural ProcessFor years, the business community has dealt with the need for change management. Adapting to the faster pace of business evolution requires changes in how business is performed. Historically, change management initiatives have been treated as special programs, managed separately from normal business operations.As the pace of change management increases, a resulting consequence is that people become tired. Multiple change programs are layered on top of normal business operations, usually without increases in personnel to handle the growing load of work.A better solution might be to create a work environment where: Employees are taught how to change the business rules for the right reasons. The knowledge learned is incorporated into a regular process for updating the business rules. In such a business environment, changing the business rules becomes a normal, natural part of the business cycle instead of a "special program." This requires a disciplined process for periodic review of the business practices, including assigned responsibilities for approval of changes to the business rules.So where does such innovation lead? When employees listen to customers and gain ideas for new product features, for improved delivery methods, and for better ways of meeting customer needs, it can lead to increased sales, lower costs and more efficient methods, but only if the corporation encourages customers to make such suggestions and turns them into actionable commitments.