The TWI Blog for the Training Within Industry Community of Practice

Archive for June, 2010

Job Instruction Training Program Plants Successful Seeds at Giant Snacks

Many thanks to Terry Cox (Dakota MEP) and Al Engstrom, Plant Manager at Giant Snacks for this impact statement.  It shows how powerful JI can be in a relatively small business and  how easy it is to measure its impact.


Giant Snacks, LLC, a family-owned business located in Wahpeton, N.D., got its start back in 1958 when Bob Schuler began selecting the absolute best tasting sunflowers for his customers. Bob’s son Jay, Schuler has dedicated over 30 years towards making sunflower seeds a bigger and better seed eating experience.  Continuing on with the family tradition, Jay’s brother Tom runs the online store and Jay’s two sons, work as sales representatives. Currently they employ 35 people.


As part of Giant Snacks continuous improvement program, which involves getting input from every employee, and having discussion with Dakota MEP, it was concluded that a more structured training program would be a benefit to the organization. Because Giant relies heavily on a multi-functional, cross-trained workforce, they wanted to make a significant reduction in the learning curve for both new employees as well as cross-training of existing employees.


Through learning about the Continuous Improvement process and determining where training fit into their program, Dakota MEP helped Giant employees learn to use the Job Instruction Training module of Training Within Industry. Every employee was trained in the four-step Job Instruction method, how to break down jobs and how to prepare a training timetable. Standard work was created through breaking down the jobs and creating digital photographs of critical processes. After each breakdown was completed, employees were brought together to form consensus on how to do the job, resulting in every person doing the job in a similar manner and ultimately stabilizing Giant’s processes.


Giant now uses Job Instruction training to create job breakdowns and standard work, as well as applies the four-step method, to train new and existing employees. As a result, the learning curve for new employees was reduced by 66 2/3%. Film waste was improved by 63% totaling monthly recuperating savings of $1, 137.87. In the past that would have been considered common scrap and a cost of doing business.


“In talking with my internal trainers, they found employees feel the new training program gives them a better opportunity to get to know new employees on a personal/professional level enabling them to know when they are ready to advance to the next level of training. Statistically, we went from a 6-8 month training curve down to 6-8 weeks. This is a huge improvement and it shows in the attitudes of new employees and their knowledge of the job at hand. I am very pleased with how this turned out for the company and all the employees involved in this program.”

—Al Engstrom, Plant Manager

TWI Institute classes are approved for college credit

Are your employees upgrading their skills and involved in getting degrees to improve their chances of advancement? The TWI Institute and University of Phoenix have completed an articulation agreement to provide continuing education credits  under their Prior Learning Assessment program.  The following ten hour  TWI Institute classes are approved for  0.5 credits: Job instruction Training; Job Relations Training; Job Methods Training; Job Safety Training.  Following successful completion of the corresponding ten hour class, the following 40 hour train the trainer classes are approved for 2.5 credits:  Job Instruction Train the Trainer;  Job Relations Train the Trainer; Job Methods Train the Trainer; Job Safety Train the Trainer.  The combination of the two equal a three credit undergraduate course.   We were pleased to be selected to participate in this program.  For more information go to: 

Look for TWI institute to join the list soon!


The Learning Curve

As I work with people who are new to TWI, I observe their learning process  and realize, anew each time, that there is always a learning curve from awareness to understanding to expertise. Everyone must go through it. I have labeled the six phases or periods in this process (somewhat lightheartedly) as:  1. I heard about TWI. How do I get certified? 2. The Aha! moment. 3. Oh, now I get it! 4. The Oops! phase. 5. Okay now, I really see how this works. 6. Now I feel competent to do and teach this.    

 It starts with: “I heard about TWI and looked at your website. How do I get certified?”  This is the awareness period. The learners are aware of the program and maybe know something about it, but think it is all about them getting trained.  They need to learn much more about TWI, but first we always ask: Why did you call us?    

Once we spend some time discussing why they need to use TWI in their company, we get down to the real issues driving the inquiry. That’s when we get to what I call “the Aha! moment”. This is when they realize that TWI is a program that will change the way they do business not simply a once and done training program.  It is at this point we lose some. Those who remain are usually anxious to get started with the ten hour class and/or benchmarking successful implementers. 

Once they do either or both they reach another level of learning I call “Oh, now I get it!”  This is the, “a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing” phase.  Failures after the initial training occur because, in truth, they don’t get it.  So, unless someone is there to coach them through their first efforts to create materials and use them, they frequently do not know what they are doing wrong.  This is especially true in JI and JM.   

That’s why the next period on the curve is called “the Oops! phase”.  You see, no matter how good the instructor, there is a period of practice and learning that must be experienced. This is when coaching is most important. It is also a critical phase in the learning curve and sometimes will determine whether the learner quits or improves.  I believe many implementations get stalled at this point due to a loss of confidence in the program or themselves.  This is why coaching is so very important.

After some practice and coaching the learners are at the “Okay, now I really see how this works” period of learning and go on from there to use TWI with great success in the company.

Finally, some may be ready to take their training to the next level, Trainer the Trainer.  Train the Trainer, once completed, puts them in a privileged group who have taken the time to develop deeper knowledge and skills in the TWI program.  They are now prepared to train others in the basics of implementing TWI, and to become a TWI Champion in their company. Now they feel competent “to do and teach this” (phase 6).  From there on the company must support the program and allow the learner to practice the skills they have learned. 

No one knows that better than our expert trainers that the learning curve never ends. It continues upward as, even the experts, continuously strive to improve and learn. 

So, if you are just starting out, be patient, the learning curve takes time and a degree of dedication, but, the long term returns will be great for both you and your company.


Oh what a Summit!

If you were not able to make the 2010 TWI Summit at the Green Valley Ranch in Las Vegas – we missed you! 

It was another great group of practitioners and leaders spending time focusing on TWI. The sessions were once again helpful and practical to the experienced and novice alike. The “J” classes following the Summit were well attended. There were two JI classes and one each in JR, JM and JS.

I want to send out a special thanks to the trainers who spent the additional three days away from home to deliver the classes.  I contacted every participant and they unanimously gave high marks to their instructors.  I am working with a number of them now on follow up and deployment in their companies. Our kudos on a job well done go out to  Richard Abercrombie, Mike Braml, Terry Cox, Richard Jackson, and Paul Johnson.

 One feature of the Summit, we especially look forward to each year, is the certified trainers meeting. It was held pre-Summit on Monday. We went over the nuts and bolts issues from the past year and the year to come.  This year we had over 25 at the meeting.   Lynne and Steve talked about the happenings at the Institute including improvements to the manuals, seminars and webinars, etc.

Plans for next year include more seminars and webinars and more improvements to the manuals. One of which is the inclusion of the five needs model in all manuals. 

Bob and Pat discussed the upcoming release of their new book. The book traces the progress of exemplary companies on the implementation of TWI in their operations.  It picks up where the first book left off.

The conversation then turned to TWI in Healthcare.   Bob said TWI in Healthcare is badly needed as a key part of their efforts to bring in Lean.  We are planning a webinar for MEPs and consultants on strategies to break into healthcare with the TWI message.     

Of course Problem Solving was on everyone’s mind.  Pat discussed the state of the program following the great excitement of last year’s sessions with Mr. Shibuya (Pat’s Sensei).  In the coming year we hope to expand the implementation of TWI PS to companies ready for it.

The next portion of the meeting was spent discussing how to avoid many common mistakes in TWI training.  For an outline of what was discussed just send me an email. ( )

Finally, we spoke about the importance of coaching. Following the ten hour class there is a period of practice that can make or break the implementation of TWI in a company. Coaching soon after the class is the best way to avoid a fall back into the old habits. We need to stress the importance of this after every class.   Recently, following a Train the Trainer in a large company, Richard went back and spent a whole week coaching breakdowns, observing different situations and offering advice and coaching. It’s a “Learn by doing” process. Someone once said: “Practice doesn’t make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect.”   Doing something incorrectly over and over doesn’t make you better at that skill.  

Following our Certified Trainers meeting on Monday, came two days of solid presentations including: outstanding keynotes and a mix of mature TWI implementation stories and start up experiences; something for everyone. We are already looking forward to next year in Orlando!

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