Lean & Operational Excellence

Training Within Industry (TWI)

“If the worker hasn’t learned, the instructor hasn’t taught”.

Training Within Industry (TWI) has thankfully come back into popularity of late, but many people don’t know that its origin wasn’t part of Lean, nor even the Toyota Production System.

In fact, TWI predates both. The US established the TWI Services Department as part of the War Manpower Commission in the summer of 1940 to solve an emerging problem. At that time in history, the US needed to rapidly increase its manufacturing output in order to support the war effort, while at the same time sending the bulk of their industrial workers (predominately men at the time) abroad to fight in the war. So, they had a problem – how to rapidly get people up to speed to perform manufacturing tasks in the absence of having years to train them to be able to do so.

Enter TWI. The TWI Services Department was lead by the “Four Horsemen” (as they became known during WWII): Channing Rice Dooley, director of the TWI Service; and three associate directors: Walter Dietz, Mike Kane, and William Conover. Broken down into four major categories, the TWI Services methods were based on Charles Allen’s 4-point methods of Preparation, Presentation, Application, and Testing, which he had developed while in the boat building industry prior to WWI.

Job Instructions (JI)

This part of TWI teaches trainers (supervisors and experienced workers) how to train inexperienced workers faster. This method leverages good Standard Work (SW), and needs to be supported with good Work Instructions (WI) to ensure that the latest, best methods are being trained and communicated. The instructors were taught to break down jobs into small, defined steps, and to not only explain the procedures (the “What”) but also the key points and the reasons for the key points (the Why) behind each step. Once it was demonstrated that the new worker understood the steps, the trainer would then watch the student attempt to physically do the work – under close coaching – with the end goal being to gradually allow the student to perform the work on their own. A Skills Matrix is a great tool to document this process, and students’ progress, as TWI progresses.

Job Relations (JR)

This course emphasizes that “People must be treated as individuals”, which fits squarely within the Lean tenet of Respect for People. Supervisors are taught on how to deal with workers and conflicts fairly, with the goal being to find the best solution for everyone involved. By helping to develop relationships based upon mutual trust and respect, problems can be quickly resolved, or in some cases, avoided altogether.

Job Methods (JM)

When we ask people why they do something a certain way, often the answer we get is: “Because we’ve always done it this way”.

This part of TWI is truly at the heart of Lean and Continuous Improvement, as it teaches workers to continuously assess the efficiency and value-add of their jobs and encourages them to suggest improvements. Any idea, no matter how small, is important. Often, process steps can be minimized, and sometimes outright eliminated, thus making things easier, faster, more productive and less frustrating. As Peter Drucker once said, “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”

JM seeks to produce greater quantities of same-quality products/services in less time by making the best use of the resources available. We do this by systematically reducing or eliminating those tasks which are deemed to be Non-Value Added (NVA). Properly practiced, Job Methods yields significant benefits to the organization including reduced costs, increased productivity, increased throughput, and reduced inventory.

Program Development (PD)

This part of TWI teaches us how to spot, analyze, and improve production problems. It’s helpful to think of this as a “Value Stream Viewpoint”, in that PD teaches us to step back and look at the company as a whole before implementing any changes. It is important to do so when implementing a program like this because of the effects it will inevitably have on everyone.

After the war, the US government closed the TWI Services Department, and TWI fell out of favor for a while, at least here in the US. Despite this, are a few more modules were created by successor institutions of TWI Services:

  • Union Job Relations
  • Job Safety (JS);
  • Problem Solving (PS);
  • Discussion Leading (DL)
  • Job Economic Training

TWI significantly influenced Toyota, however, and much of its teachings can be seen in what we now know as Lean.