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Archive for December, 2009

Reflections on a year well spent

In just a few days we take a brief break for the holidays.  As I reflect on this past year (my first with TWI)  I can’t help but marvel at how much I’ve learned and how much we’ve accomplished.  I feel very fortunate to be working with  people who have a depth of  expertise with, and dedication to, TWI.  I’ve certainly learned the most from Bob Wrona and Patrick Graupp; the deans of  TWI.  They are working on their second book.  Their first was the TWI Workbook, it documented the whys and hows of TWI implementation.  The upcoming book will chronicle what has happened since the first book was published in 2006 in terms of the successes and lessons learned by companies implementing TWI programs. 

In the past year I’ve been privileged to watch our master trainers at work.   In 2009, the  TWI master trainers,  Patrick Graupp, Richard Abercrombie, Roger Bilas,  Mike Braml, and Dave Palazzoli have  brought 61 new practitioners  into the ranks of  TWI certified trainers.  Two thirds of the TWI Institute certified trainers are certified in  more than one program.  So, the 61 new trainers  accounted for a fraction  of the  150 seats filled in 27  train the trainer classes. The remaining 89 were in their second , third or fourth train the trainer class.  This is a track record made even more amazing by the  fact that in 2009 our master trainers and an outstanding cadre of certified trainers  including: Terry Cox, Richard Jackson, and Paul Johnson, have trained another 468 trainees in 49 J classes.  Many of  these trainees find their way into the ranks of certified trainers in fairly short order.  Finally, we can’t even count the number of trainees in the classes held in  2009 by our 313 certified trainers throughout the world.  

But the best part of the job, by far, has been meeting the great people in the many companies across the country where the TWI programs are being implemented.  Time after time I got to see and hear the success stories of companies weathering the economic storms and even prospering, in large part, because they are faithfully implementing the principles of TWI.   What a difference TWI training  has made in the lives of the people in these  companies! 

I also want to thank Lynne Harding, our Program Administrator, for making this first year such an easy transition; we would be lost without her.  

All the best to you and yours for a wonderful holiday season and a happy New Year! 

 Steven Grossman – Director

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A Benchmarking Visit

We recently had folks from Virginia visit us  in beautiful upstate New York. They were from a company in the early phases  of TWI JI/JR deployment and wanted to benchmark with three exemplary Central New York companies.  The companies we visited were a plastics injection and blow molding operation, a monofilament plant and a precision gear maker.  All are very different from each other  and different from our visitors’ operation which assembles heat exchangers among other precision products.   Having said that, the companies also  have many similarities as well.  For example, all four are  relatively small operations (less than 150 employees in the plant) and three are tied to  multi-national parent companies. 

As we traveled from one plant to the next,  our benchmarkers expressed how  impressed they were with the commitment shown at each location to weave  TWI – JI into the fabric of day-to-day operations.  It was clear that using TWI – JI is not an event that occurs each time an individual needs to be trained.  Rather,  it is an ongoing process of:  codifying how tasks are to be done;  developing job instruction breakdowns (JIBS); scheduling training; carrying out training; auditing operators;  auditing training; and assembling metrics that will document the return on this  investment.  Wisely, our visitors didn’t see that commitment as a negative feature of TWI, instead, they saw it as a way to sustain  standard work and improvements.  

If there was a recurring  theme in our discussions with our hosts it was:  Our success depends on three things: 1) top down support, 2)bottom up buy in and 3) staff whose main job is to support TWI in the organization.   In every case, our guests observed top down support.  The CEO or plant manager was the driving force in keeping TWI on track.  Management either brought TWI to the organization or bought in early and was actively involved.  The bottom up buy in was evident at all three sites as well.   Supervisors, team leaders and operators bought in when they were provided training and ongoing support and then started seeing the benefits.     Finally,  in all three exemplary companies, there were one or two  TWI “champions” .  The champions took  the train the trainer course or courses and had the best understanding of TWI in the organization.  They were  responsible for all the TWI  tasks listed above.  Everyone agreed,  without the champion, there is little probability of a sustained and successful deployment.   

Our friends from Virginia said their benchmarking was very helpful. We thank our hosts for their generosity.  I could write a book on all I learned, but Bob Wrona and Patrick Graupp beat me to it.  Their book of case studies is due out in the summer of 2010.   We enjoyed our opportunity to visit with our friends and colleagues to see the wonderful progress they are making.  Someday soon, we hope to drop in on our visitors in Virginia and see the progress they’ve made.

Do you have a TWI benchmarking story? Tell us in a comment or send me an email.

Steve Grossman,  TWI Institute Director

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