The TWI Blog for the Training Within Industry Community of Practice

A trainer’s dilemma

Have you ever thought: Is there some way to make TWI JI better, faster, more up to date with technology?

Here is a trainer with a dilemma and Patrick Graupp’s  response.  


The program I am working on today requires to train hundreds of people worldwide on new processes and software. I would like take the advantage of the TWI methodology to boost the speed and the quality of the training that is a bottle neck for us regarding the available resources.

I do not know if it has been tried before but for learning software could you effectively follow the 4-step method in a classroom environment (no more than 10 people)?

Step 1 – the instructor performs a general presentation:

–          Explain the objective

–          Ask each person within the group what they know

–          U shape room is used to ensure everyone can see the software on a screen

Step 2 – Instructor presents the software

–          Go through each important step on the screen

–          Do it again stressing Key Points

–          Do it again stating reasons for Key Points

Step 3 – Try out performance with each person in the group

–          Each person within the group would do the job – correcting each error

–          Each person would explain each important step

–          Each person would explain each Key point as they do it again

–          Each person would explain each reason for Key points as they do it again

Step 4 – Follow up

–          Put the group on their own by giving them 2 or three exercises to do. Instructor remains in classroom but only helps when help is needed

–          Encourage questions

 I realize it is somewhat of a compromise but it does have some advantages like having heard and seen the learning process many more times than one on one instruction. Please let us know your thoughts and experience.

 Patrick said:

TWI is a very good tool for teaching software routines. Since there are so many functions available, it is always confusing to learn to do specific things using software. So when we “break it down” and give specific instructions, we can isolate the tasks and ensure a correct performance. Be careful with the breakdowns: the Important Steps should be large segments and not too detailed (e.g. “Log in,” “Open file,” “Select correct customer,” “Input data,” etc.). Then the Key Points can be shortcuts or techniques, but only those points where things go wrong. You do NOT need to instruct them on things they know from their experience like “hit enter key.” A good example of a Key Point might be the best “path” to get to a certain screen like “Format -> Options -> Files -> Customers.”

 So, about the instruction of large groups of people, your suggestions can work if they are done thoughtfully and with care but keep in mind that, at some point, it will actually be FASTER to teach them one at a time. If it takes 30 minutes, say, to teach the job you could get 10 people trained in less than a day without having to go through all the logistics of setting up the classes. This is the most effective way because each person can have the training adjusted to their level of experience and knowledge. Any time you get away from the ideal method, the quality of the training effort goes down. Of course, this is a big effort—see Chapter 9 of the Implementing TWI book where they set up individual training for 467 nurses and nurses assistants.

 Having said that, there is always a place for classroom training. TWI does not change that. Especially with software applications where you are not teaching “on the line” where machines are moving and product is in motion, you can sit people down in a class and go through the instruction where everyone can see (on a big screen) and you can pace the instruction to the needs of the group.

 Actually, going over your suggestions I thought of yet a third option you can consider:

 Step 1 and Step 2 are done with a group of 10 people in a training room setting

–          In Step 1, go around the room and quiz each person on their backgrounds one at a time. Use this information to get the whole group “interested in learning the job” making sure you don’t leave anybody behind. Different people have different motivations.

–          In Step 2, adjust the presentation to the “lowest level” of experience/skill in the group. The more advance people will have to be patient, but you don’t want to leave anyone behind by going too fast or too complicated.

Step 3 and Step 4 are done individually at their own work stations  

–          Disperse the group and have the trainer visit them at their desks/work stations one at a time and confirm that they can do the job and remember all the Important Steps, Key Points and reasons

–          Here, tell them the Step 4 items, pointing out when you will come back to check on them. Remember, this is the follow-up which means that the trainer then must go back and check up on the people one by one. In other words, you don’t just tell them you are coming back but actually go back and make sure they are using the method.

 There is indeed a lot of work to do proper training. But the goal is to have each person be able to perform the job correctly and following the standard. When you bring a group of people together and try to teach it at one time, you cannot assure that each and every person “gets it” so one-on-one attentions is critical. That’s why when we train more “supervisors” (trainers) how to do the method in the 10-hour class, you can have more coverage for this one-on-one effort.

What do you think?

Steve G


Comments on: "A trainer’s dilemma" (1)

  1. Milica Kovacevic said:

    I would have to agree with Patrick – “Any time you get away from the ideal method, the quality of the training effort goes down”. Your goal is to train hundreds of people globally… imagine the varying levels of computer skill each individual has. In the JI 10 hour, we talk about the “Bore, ream, and face” breakdown with the first important step being “Chuck” – this is for the experienced worker. For the inexperienced worker, the Operation of “Chucking” has it’s own breakdown. Think of your entire software process – if there are jobs that might need to be further broken down for the less experienced end user, you may have to set up a separate training session for those people.

    I would suggest you try to group people with similar computer skill levels together, to ensure the pace isn’t too fast for some learners (they just won’t get it) or too slow for other learners (they’ll get bored and loose interest). You could tray asking everyone a few questions in advance as to their computer skill level, and then decide which group they should be categorized into.

    Computer training is tricky like that. You have people at so many different levels. Some you look at and think to yourself “how do they DO that”, and others you wonder how they’ve held a job since the dot com boom. You wouldn’t want to mix those people in the same training session is my point – so I’d have to say one-on-one might be the way to go unless you group people based on prior skill level.

    However, splitting people up and in a classroom with repetition is definitely better than handing them a manual or typical classroom setting course, so if that’s all the time you have for, go with it – at least you’ll get the company familiar with Important Steps and Key Points.

    Hope this helps!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: