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KaiNexus Blog

Everything Continuous Improvement


Allan Wilson

Allan is the Chairman of the Advisory Board at KaiNexus. He is an entrepreneur with deep experience in supply chain, lean manufacturing, asset management, condition-based maintenance, enterprise software, and the Internet of things.
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Recent Posts

What Makes a Company Innovative?

Posted by Allan Wilson

Oct 29, 2014 10:41:00 AM

Every year, Forbes puts out a list of the top 100 most innovative companies. To determine each company’s rank, they use something they call the “Innovation Premium.” They describe it as “a measure of how much investors have bid up the stock price of a company above the value of its existing business based on expectations of future innovative results (new products, services and markets).” Salesforce.com sits atop this year’s list with an Innovation Premium of 75.9%. The list contains a diverse set of companies in almost every sector from consumer packaged goods to pharmaceuticals.

We thought it would be useful to explore what makes a company innovative. What do these companies from Chipotle to Sherwin Williams have in common?

A Culture of Innovation

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Topics: Innovation Software, Employee Engagement, Collaboration

What is a Balanced Scorecard?

Posted by Allan Wilson

Oct 8, 2014 5:32:00 PM

Sometime around the turn of the 20th century, British scientist Lord Kelvin said “I often say that when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meager and unsatisfactory kind. If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it.”

Dr. Robert Kaplan and Dr. David Norton of Harvard, believed that managers need measurement as much as scientists, so they took this principle and applied it to business. In 1992 they introduced the “Balanced Scorecard” measurement framework in a Harvard Business Review article.


The Balanced Scorecard is a management framework that combines traditional financial metrics with strategic measures to give managers a more complete view of business performance. The approach rests on the premise that that many business measurement schemes are weighted too heavily toward financial performance and ignore other strategically important, but often more difficult to measure, priorities. The Scorecard is “Balanced” because it takes into account these other non-financial factors as well. The Balanced Scorecard assumes that there is a cause-and-effect link between learning, internal efficiencies, business processes, customers, and financial results.

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Topics: Leadership

How Leadership Influences a Company's Improvement Culture

Posted by Allan Wilson

Oct 2, 2014 3:10:00 PM

"Culture does not change because we desire to change it. Culture changes when the organization is transformed; the culture reflects the realities of people working together every day."

— Frances Hesselbein
The Key to Cultural Transformation, Leader to Leader



There have been many studies and examples over the years that prove the link between business culture and business performance. Most leaders understand this connection and studies show that many CEOs consider it as important to success as strategy. But, if the results of employee engagement and satisfaction studies are to be believed, it is clear that not everyone is aware of how leadership influences company culture or how to bring about meaningful change. Understanding exactly how leadership influences company culture can help CEOs develop a plan to strengthen it.

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Topics: Leadership, Collaboration

21 Inspirational Employee Engagement Quotes from Business Leaders

Posted by Allan Wilson

Oct 1, 2014 12:28:00 PM

If your employee engagement efforts have hit a wall, or you’re just not feeling it, take a few minutes to read these inspirational quotes from business leaders, experts and authors. Hopefully, they’ll help you get back your employee engagement mojo and serve as a reminder of the fundamental link between employee engagement and business success.

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Speaking the Language - Lean Management System Phrase Book

Posted by Allan Wilson

Sep 22, 2014 11:11:00 AM

Acclaimed American journalist and award winning writer Flora Lewis once said, “Learning another language is not only learning different words for the same things, but learning another way to think about things.

Certainly the Lean management system has enough unique words and terms that, to the newly introduced, it can seem like a different language indeed. But it is true that learning another way to think about things is the main advantage of understanding the language of Lean. In the case of Lean, some words are actually Japanese words central to the approach since its inception at Toyota. Others are English words used in unusual ways.

We thought a quick listing of the words and phrases you’ll need to know to understand and discuss the Lean management system, while not exhaustive, would be of use.

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Topics: Lean, Kaizen

Can The Six Sigma DMAIC Methodology Work Outside of Manufacturing?

Posted by Allan Wilson

Sep 2, 2014 10:17:00 AM

Six Sigma was developed by Motorola in the mid 1980’s as a set of techniques and tools for manufacturing process improvement. It was adopted as a central business strategy by General Eclectic in the 90’s and is a popular approach to continuous improvement in many industrial sectors today. However, the Six Sigma approach, and DMAIC in particular, outlines a way of identifying and challenging wasteful and inefficient processes in an effort to find opportunities for improvement. It is no wonder then that it has been increasingly embraced by business sectors outside of manufacturing. 


Defining DMAIC

DMAIC is a Six Sigma project methodology that was inspired by W. Edwards Deming’s Plan-Do-Check-Act continuous improvement cycle. DMAIC is used to improve existing business processes. It is pronounced “duh-may-ick” and stands for:

  • Define - The business problem is described in as much detail as possible
  • Measure - Metrics that can be used to compare the final state to the pre-improvement state are identified
  • Analyze – Data is analyzed and the root cause(s) of the business problem are identified 
  • Improve - After the previous steps are accomplished is it time to identify, implement, and test a solution
  • Control - The control step ensures that the improvements can be continued over time

While Six Sigma is usually used in manufacturing and doesn’t translate exactly to other sectors, DMAIC is rather universal and can be used to improve multiple types of processes in virtually any industry with a need to eliminate waste and inefficient processes.


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Topics: Lean, Six Sigma

Allan Wilson: A Life of Continuous Improvement

Posted by Allan Wilson

Aug 22, 2014 3:52:00 PM

In May 2013, I met with Dr. Greg Jacobson who, along with Matt Paliulis, founded KaiNexus. It was Greg’s enthusiasm that I initially found infectious, however I later realized that it was more than that - he and I share a lifelong passion for improvement. I agreed to join the KaiNexus advisory board and earlier this year, at Greg’s request, took the position of CEO.

My life has been about improvement - in my abilities to be a good husband and father as well as in my career. I chose industrial engineering, as it is a profession that allowed me to focus on improving industrial processes. I specialized in business software development designed to help companies improve their business and the bottom line. My CEO role in KaiNexus is simply a continuation of that lifelong interest in improvement work.

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Monsters In The Fog: What Keeps Senior Executives Up At Night

Posted by Allan Wilson

Aug 21, 2014 3:31:00 PM

senior_exec_blog_series_imageWhen we consider the dramatic changes in consumer behavior over the past decade, we might conclude that the primary motivator of behavioral change has been the dramatic increase in consumer choice. Consumers now have an overwhelming number of options, from the type of toothpaste they buy to the kind of beer they drink, driving businesses to consistently differentiate themselves in order to be the “first choice.”

In order to meet this need, businesses today must create a sustainable culture of innovation and improvement so that they can constantly adapt to the changing landscape of customer buying criteria. Failure to adapt and improve ultimately results in the failure of the business. Those who keep up with and anticipate changing demands are the businesses that thrive in today’s market.

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Does A Lean Organization Abandon Information Technology?

Posted by Allan Wilson

Aug 20, 2014 9:37:00 AM

"Stop using all information technology and do everything manually!"

What would be our reaction if the leadership in our company made this directive? Disbelief for sure; we would think that they had lost their minds. No computers, no cell phones, no email, every single process to be done with pencil and paper and whiteboards.

Well, this is what many in the Lean consulting community have been preaching for years. But, in today’s world, is this approach to the establishment of lean management and a culture of continuous improvement based on purely manual methods realistic? I am a complete Lean advocate, but I am also an advocate for the use of technology where appropriate to help Lean become the core business management culture in an organization.

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Topics: Lean

Friday Five: What Our CEO Has Been Reading

Posted by Allan Wilson

Aug 1, 2014 10:00:00 AM

My All You Can Eat Buffet

Allan Wilson is the CEO of KaiNexus. Allan is an entrepreneur with deep experience in supply chain, lean manufacturing, asset management, condition based maintenance, enterprise software and the “internet of things.” We asked him to share what he’s been reading this week. Enjoy!

My KaiNexus colleagues have recently been sharing with you their reading choices, as they stay current on technology and improvement topics. I personally find it difficult to focus on a particular author; there is a wealth of great material out there, and for me the “all you can eat buffet” is the preferred approach.  I can browse various topics and choose what I want to consume based on my specific interest that day.

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