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Archive for March, 2010

When is a picture NOT worth a thousand words?

In the manufacturing workplace good pictures, schematics, blueprints, and detailed specifications are all essential and routine requirements of the work.   I need to distinguish these documents from what I am about to talk about.  You see  I’ve been a  bit worried  lately by the trend toward written step by step directions and pictures  in nicely prepared, colorful, laminated “work  instructions” being used a substitute for good training.  These documents have never been easier to produce and store electronically. Anyone with a computer and digital camera can design, save and print endless work instructions. There is also excellent software available to support that activity and produce professional quality documents at the push of a button.   Yet these documents, time and time again, fail to produce the desired results.   I can almost hear the supervisor, who put many hours into the work instructions, saying:  “Why can’t they read what’s there? The instructions are perfect, if they just follow them.”      I had a discussion about this with a very sophisticated operations manager at a major international company. His goal, he said, is to make the work instructions so crystal clear that, after reading the instructions and looking at the pictures, anyone with a modicum of skill with the tools of the trade could come in and do the job .  He lamented that he hadn’t gotten there yet. After-all they were still finding defects in the work and they needed to inspect, rework  and repair whenever a new operator came on board.  Therefore, it must be the documentation that  needs improvement.    

 At the TWI Institute we know detailed, illustrated work instructions work poorly because they  engage the learner only on a visual level and rely on their reading and spacial relations skills.   We know the best practices in training require engaging the learner on all  levels: seeing, hearing and touching. Or as the  old Chinese proverb said:  “When I hear, I forget. When I see, I remember. When I do, I understand.”  We know: one on one dialogue with practice yields the best training results.  So, yes I’m a bit worried about the fate of companies that are spending their scarce training resources on detailed illustrated work instructions that neither work nor instruct. They ought to be providing sound proven training which clearly takes more effort at  the start,  but,  pays out great dividends in error free work and customer satisfaction at the finish.  

Steve Grossman, Director     




The busy folks at the TWI Institute

Here’s the latest from your TWI Institute. We’ve been busy so let me give you a quick overview:

  • When they’re not working with all of you, Bob Wrona and Patrick Graupp have been working hard writing their second book.  Look for it this summer or fall.  In this book they pick up the thread from the TWI Workbook and fast forward four years. What has happened to the companies that have implemented TWI correctly?  What has changed in TWI and what hasn’t?  
  • The TWI Summit is coming up in a few short weeks and preparations are almost complete. We have been working closely with Dwayne Butcher and Jim Huntzinger to make this simply the best TWI Summit ever!   In addition to an excellent venue (Green Valley Ranch – Las Vegas,  Nevada)  the program is going to be outstanding.  On our end Bob and Pat will offer their popular preconference session – TWI  101.  It is the best overview you can get.  During the conference the excellent breakout sessions will include many of the stars from TWI Institute’s cadre of trainers and leaders including:  Richard Abercrombie,   Patrick Graupp, Scott Curtis, Alan Gross, Robert Dumke, Martha Purrier, Sam Wagner, and Mike Braml.  Of course, all the sessions are being presented by stars in their own right.  On the Monday preceding the conference we will have our TWI Institute Certified Trainers meeting from 1 to 4 PM. This is free to certified trainers and invited guests. We are putting together an informative and interactive three hours you will not want to miss.   An agenda will be coming out soon.
  • As always, we have been talking, talking, talking to companies large and small about how to solve their production problems, large and small, through effective TWI program implementation.    We are finding our conversations are branching out into plants in Europe, Mexico, and Canada as well as our many U.S. companies. No one  in the world, it seems, is immune to production problems that result from inadequate training.   

Steve Grossman, Director

Did you miss the Webinar?

If you missed the February 25th, webinar on the critical role of TWI Champions on the successful implementation of a TWI program, here is a summary of the key points. Sam Wagner and I had fun bringing it to everyone.  If you want t a copy of the slides send me an email.


   Steve Grossman:

Throughout the years I met with and consulted with manufacturers large and small and became familiar with their training challenges.     I found they are all dealing with the same issues:  How to provide the training necessary to insure not only an efficient and effective workforce, but a workforce that is always learning and improving?  

Sam Wagner of Donnelly Manufacturing  :

Like you said, Steve, the key is having a workforce that is always learning and improving, because no matter how good you are today, to stay competitive you’ve got to get better at what you do, and your people are the ones who have to be able to make that happen.  Training Within Industry gives your people the skills to make it happen.


Most of those listening know what TWI is and how it started, if you want more information than we are going to offer today ,  visit the TWI Institute website and other sites that have TWI background information.

In a nutshell, TWI is a series of standardized programs that provide, through hands on training, skills that are essential for all supervisors, including: Skills in Leading, Skills in Instructing and Skills in Improving Methods. These programs and the associated training are well known to those of us familiar with TWI  as Job Relations or  JR, Job Instruction or JI, Job Methods or JM and an additional program that was instituted after WWII called Job Safety or JS.  JS provides skills in seeing safety problems before they occur and instituting countermeasures.


We’ve implemented these programs and love how well they work.  They’re simple, practical, hands-on, and focused on solving today’s workplace problems.  And they’re not just for manufacturing – they work in any environment where you have people and processes.  Job Relations – how to get things done through gaining the voluntary cooperation of others – what effective leader doesn’t have to be good at this?  Job Instruction – how to efficiently and effectively train others.  Any change in processes or people and you’ll need this.  Or any time you have more than one person doing a task, someone is probably doing it better than someone else, so why not train everyone to do it the most effective way.  And Job Methods – how to improve the way you use the resources you have now available.  In any economy, this need is self-evident, isn’t it?


We are always trying to come up with better metaphors for the relationship between TWI and Lean. In this one; we represent TWI as the DNA of Lean.  TWI, practiced with fidelity, provides the communication codes necessary for the replication of successful lean processes over and over in a standard way. 


Yes, TWI is an integral part of our lean efforts, Steve.  We started lean in January, 2003, the traditional way, with 5S and improvement events some people call kaizens.  And we had early success, but after a couple years it started to plateau.  In August, 2005, we started TWI and it helped reinvigorate our lean efforts by better engaging our people on an everyday basis.  With TWI today our improvement process is sustainable and stronger than ever.


In a familiar metaphor, the house of lean, we represent TWI as the mortar that holds the Lean implementation together.  Whether you deploy one or all of the lean tools, TWI JI provides the pathway to standard work needed to sustain the effort.  For me, the limitation of the house of lean and the mortar metaphor is the idea that the house is a solid structure that and the mortar cements it in a static form.  Clearly, the reality is the house is constantly changing form and TWI keeps things from falling apart.  

     I was in a company in the past few weeks and they had many of the lean tools implemented, just about everyone you see in the house of lean. But they said they struggled with every step forward because they were blocked by a lack of capacity for training by their own staff and a lack standard work against which to measure progress.  They had repetitive mistakes in key processes that were costly and wasteful even with their most experienced operators. 


Yes, the struggle is usually, how do you sustain the gains?  You need a plan and the skills to implement it successfully.  TWI provides the training for these skills.  And you need standards.  Why do we have standards? To build pride, to measure progress so we can take pride in what we’re doing, so we can be consciously competent at our jobs.  Job Instruction helps ensure we’re consciously competent.  Because if you’re successful at what you’re doing but don’t know why, you’re unconsciously competent, and your success isn’t repeatable.  When inevitable changes occur, how do you know how to successfully react?  You don’t.  It’s actually better to be consciously incompetent, because at least then you know you need help!

Steve :

Before we go any further let me clarify what we mean by Champion.  I think all of us  know what a champion is in the this context but just in case there is any confusion  let me make sure we are all on the same page. The TWI Champion is not the best at TWI training or implementation. The TWI Champion is one who fights for and supports TWI.  Webster defines this type of champion as: one who fights for a cause.  You might think that is putting it too strongly, but from what I’ve seen, for a TWI program such as JI to be successfully implemented a great deal of resistance must be overcome and that won’t happen without TWI Champions at every level.  


You got that right, Steve!  But as TWI teaches us, resistance to new ideas is one of the two human shortcomings that have stopped many improvements from being put to work.  So champions are needed to help overcome this natural human resistance.


 CEO and managers must be TWI Champions.  We hear over and over again how critical corporate support is to the effort. You can get along without it but it is chancy since a new corporate initiative might come down to drain all the resources from TWI. 

Sam :

Deming taught us the importance of constancy of purpose.  To achieve success, our top leaders have to be able to reject the urge to support the whim of the day, but rather stay the course.  We’re fortunate to have this type of leadership in place.


Now we get to the level where the work is done.  The leaders who direct the work of others, who train or oversee training, must be equipped to fight inertia and outright resistance to make TWI happen. These are people without whom nothing happens on the shop floor. 


Right, Steve. This is where the rubber hits the road, on the shop floor, in gemba, where the action is.  For us, these people are our Shift Supervisors and Team Leaders.  When your front-line leaders experience first-hand how TWI helps make their jobs safer, easier, better, only then are they willing to put for the effort for the difficult initial push to get the TWI flywheel turning.  But once it’s going, it’s a lot of fun. Our people who are being trained make sure the trainer is using Job Instruction techniques.  People involved in solving a personnel issue make sure we’re using the Job Relations process.  And our people believe they will be treated fairly because we use this proven process.  People who complain about a process are asked to use Job Methods to implement a better way.  So complaints turn into improvement solutions. 


What happens if, at the end of the day, there are no TWI Champions in an organization?  I bet we all have seen it happen in one project or another. The training occurs; it is excellent; everyone is pleased and goes back to work.  There is no one in charge, no plan, no structure to the activities. Resources in the form of time are not committed, the manager is too busy solving problems and making punch lists to oversee to devote much time. No decisions are made about where to start. And finally, there is no in house expertise developed to take ownership of TWI for the company.

So, how do we prevent this?  Right! We create TWI Champions.  The pathway to do so is fairly straight forward, but, requires the support of those champions at corporate and management levels.

Then, the ten hour training needs to come initially from outside the organization.  The TWI Champions emerge from the cadre of trainees.   They are the people who are energized by the idea that this program will really help solve their problems.  The most successful companies create a competitive job of TWI coordinator or an equivalent title and give that individual, time and support to do the work. The most enthusiastic of champions might be selected to become a certified trainer and bring the program in house. 


There are a number of ways to do this, and I know at the TWI Institute you’re researching the best ways.  The one you mentioned is a good one.  Our approach was similar.  Several members of our management team received the initial 10-hour training, after which we met and decided to move forward with TWI.  We selected three different individuals to go through train-the-trainer, one for each program.  Steve, with your background I’m sure you’ve experienced that “if you really want to learn something, you should commit to teaching it?”  We used this principle to select our Certified TWI Trainers.: For Job Relations, we selected the person who has to deal with the most personnel issues; for Job Instruction, the person in charge of training; for Job Methods, the person responsible for ensuring we have continual process improvements.  Due to their respective roles in the organization, they already had the aptitude and interest.  Why not build on these strengths?


The company needs to support the TWI Champion with the time and resources to create job instruction breakdowns, training timetable and to go out and audit both the training and the actual work.   The key to sustaining TWI is ownership.  Who typically does that for Donnelly, Sam?


It started with our Certified TWI Trainers and now includes our Salaried Shift Supervisors.  In the TWI training we stress the personal benefits to each individual, but most people don’t really believe it until they see it in action, see how effective it really is on their jobs, and see how we support it through making the process as easy as possible and providing the time to do it.  Our Shift Supervisors, as part of their leader standard work, conduct daily shop-floor audits that we review every week.  When processes and/training changes, we make a special point of auditing those changes to check for effectiveness.


Here are some additional tasks in a more advanced implementation.  Coaching is critical to success, but before you can be a coach you need to do many JIBS yourself under the eye of coach, ideally become a certified trainer and run a number of in house classes. TWI programs are like any skill they must be practiced before you can become good at them.

What else do you think should be included in the role of TWI Champion?


That’s a great question, Steve. Coaching is key, but also measuring your progress and continual learning.  We measure and track the total number of Job Methods improvements by shift, and quarterly during our Quality Management System Review we look at how we’re doing relative to our defined critical success factors as well as things like the Job Methods improvement participation rate, the number of Job Instruction breakdowns completed, hours of training provided, and so on.


With that introduction to TWI and the TWI champion  –  Sam will tell us  how Donnelly manufacturing has become the best at what they do  through Lean and TWI – and how their Lean and TWI champions made it happen.   Sam it’s all yours…

 Thanks Steve.  Donnelly Custom Manufacturing Company was founded by Stan Donnelly in 1984 as a custom plastic injection molding company.  From the beginning we have focused on close-tolerance plastic parts in short runs, as coined in our tag line, “How Short Run Is Done.” Operating around the clock with 5 shifts, we supply large world-renowned Original Equipment Manufacturers using a quality management system certified to ISO 9001 and 13485 standards.   We’re located in Alexandria, MN, about a two hour drive NW from Minneapolis and St. Paul. So this time of year we have a lot of people driving on the ice on the lakes to get to their fish houses.  But I’d like to talk warmly about one of my favorite holidays, the 4th of July.  When you think of the 4th of July, you think of fireworks, right?  One of my favorites is the spider style shown on the slide here with a big report – the kind of boom that shakes the ground.  That’s what I feel when I think of TWI.  So to me the Role of the TWI Champion is a lot like preparing a fireworks display.  In the spirit of TWI, I’ll describe this role in a four step process:  Load ‘em up (or for those of you who don’t yet speak Minnesotan, Load the shells), Light ‘em up (start the fuses), then get out of the way, step back and enjoy the show. So what do I mean by Load ‘em up?

 The first thing we had to decide is, are we committed to this process for the long term?  Because we understand the dangers of falling into the “program of the month” trap, we don’t take on new initiatives lightly.  So we did our homework, our research.  And the more we learned, the more we saw that this fit our style of business, our culture.  We understand the value of training, having developed an 18-week certified molding operator training program in 1996 that we still use today.  And TWI was a nice supplement to the existing leadership training we’ve been doing since 1994.  We could also see that it would strengthen our continuous improvement process and ISO certified quality system.

 Our next decision was who should become our certified trainer.  We decided to heed the advice of our founder Stan Donnelly, who often reminded us that ten heads are better than one.  So we decided to split the 3 train-the-trainer J-programs among 3 individuals.  That’s been a great decision! 3 champions are definitely better than one!

We started training with awareness for our management team, and then moved to the next level of supervisors.  Then we began training team leaders and operators.  We found it was most effective when we trained several people from the same shift or area at one time.  I call this going for density.  For us, this approach was the quickest way to engrain TWI into the culture.

We also did some role playing with the supervisors and managers to help them encourage and not discourage improvement ideas from their people.  This included what to say (and how to say it) when you find issues or concerns with an idea, as well as how to overcome common barriers and involve those who are slow to adopt TWI.

On a weekly basis, we post graphs of our progress, improvement proposals submitted, and a list of the names of those who contribute improvement ideas.

Early successes help build enthusiasm.  We encourage people to copy ideas.  We tell them it’s not like school – copying isn’t cheating, it’s OK.

 Don’t guard the door; let your supervisors through.  But “getting out of the way” doesn’t mean abandoning your supervisors.  What it does mean is stepping aside so they can own the process.  Your role as TWI Champion should evolve to encouraging them and supporting their implementation plans.  For example, simply ask them who needs training next, provide the visuals that help them see for themselves how many improvements are being implemented every week, ask them what barriers to more effective implementation you can help remove, and guide them when questions arise about the process.  For example, one Supervisor suggested we reward people who submitted suggestions for improvement.  That sounds like a noble gesture.  But our goal is to make implementing everyday improvements a part of our culture, of the way our people naturally act at work, and to sustain this, our people need to be intrinsically motivated about these efforts.  We understand that research shows, over time, extrinsic rewards tend to extinguish intrinsic motivation.  So we acknowledge people’s involvement by posting contributors’ names every week, and by reminding them of the number of improvement ideas they proposed during their annual performance reviews. Finally, tracking who’s using their training and who isn’t can be a helpful tool.  If someone is not participating at the level expected, perhaps there’s a problem.  Maybe somebody’s having problems outside work, maybe at work with a decision that was made or how they were treated by another.  Use it as an indicator of a problem that may be brewing, one that might be easier to address sooner than later.

 By nurturing it in this way, TWI will begin to adapt to your environment, kind of like a chameleon that adapts to its physical and psychological condition.  Like us, you may find that this “supervisory training” starts to become valuable training for those who direct the work of others as well as for those who don’t, but might someday. It becomes the way you do things when an issue arises; those who are not directing the work of others ask if you’re using the principles of JR when investigating a personnel issue, or JI when training, or ask why you don’t use JM to find a better way when a complaint is heard about a task or job.  You may find that the skill set for making a JI breakdown is so different than the skill set for delivering training that even your trainers need to be treated as individuals and their talents used accordingly. You might need to admit as a Certified JM trainer like me that not every improvement needs a detailed job breakdown.  You might need to admit as a Certified JI trainer that the job breakdown can be used effectively as a reminder and is more that just a training tool, especially when the job isn’t performed every day or even every week.  Let it evolve to meet your organization’s needs, because as we all know, every place is different.

 The more I learn, the more I recognize that I don’t know.  It’s so easy to keep learning these days, even from remote places like Alexandria MN.  The internet is just as close for me as it is for you, with its articles, blogs, and webcasts.  We have quite a hub of manufacturing in the area and local representatives of Minnesota’s MEP that facilitate Peer Councils and additional training opportunities.  I also have attended the TWI Summit each year, and always learn and become reinvigorated about TWI from that great conference.  So I salute those of you today who are taking advantage of this opportunity, and I appreciate those that help make it possible for me to continue learning.

Celebrate your successes!  I must admit, I’m not a great celebrator.  In fact, I’m downright lousy at it.  But I guess I celebrate in the same way I like to watch fireworks:  periodically taking a step back and reflecting on how we’re doing and how far we’ve come.  And then reminding people of that.  But not for long, as we’ve still a long way to go.

Finally, I’d like to take a minute to brag about my team here at Donnelly.  Two of my direct reports are Certified TWI trainers, and are really part of our combined role of TWI Champion.  Dave Lamb is our Director of Manufacturing, and our JR trainer.  Dave reminds us to always follow the JR process, to make sure we determine the objective and talk with the individuals concerned, and that people must be treated as individuals.  Brad Andrist is our Training and CI Coordinator and our JI trainer.  Brad reminds us that when we present the operation to our workers, we need to include only the important steps, the key points and the reasons why, and continue until you know they know.  Our 5 Shift Supervisors who promote TWI and walk the talk every day – Steve Hoskins, Rod Hanson, Harley Chase, Jim Scott and Holly Sutton .  And I’d also like to thank my boss, our President Ron Kirscht, for helping by checking and commenting on a weekly basis to make sure we’re staying the course.  Finally I’d like to thank the individual contributors to TWI at Donnelly – all of our people who continue to contribute ideas and improvements like the 1600 we completed last year, and support their implementation.  Because it’s all about making your jobs safer, easier and more productive; about continuously improving our quality; and about believing in ourselves, our company and its leadership, believing in our value and the value of the products and services we deliver – that’s compensation, true compensation for a job well done.  That’s what it’s all about.


Thanks Sam!

Well once you are well underway with a TWI Implementation, you need to ask the question: Is this making any difference?  And is that difference going in the right direction? A role for one of the champions, usually at the management level is to make sure baseline data is set aside before the effort begins and then looked at continuously in a PDCA cycle. Mike Rother said in his recent book Toyota Kata that we enter a gray zone when we begin a complex organizational effort   to improve processes, and we have to find out where we are going next by using the experimental method aka PDCA.    What  do you routinely use to measure your success?  The key thought here is: you won’t know what problems and obstacles you are going to encounter as you move forward so you need to be ready to make frequent adjustments without changing your ultimate destination.   Again, the TWI Champions will keep you going in the right direction. Without them it is very easy to lose your way.     

Sam, any final words for our group?


We use TWI to solve our everyday problems, to engage our workforce, and to continually improve safety, quality, delivery and productivity.  Use TWI to stop firefighting and start lighting the fireworks.  Let the show begin!

Steve Grossman, TWI Institute

Sam Wagner, Donnelly Manufacturing

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