Agata Pawlukojc a training consultant in Spain who participated in TWI Institute Training had some questions for Richard Abercrombie. They are presented here in question answer format. Do you have questions? Leave them as comments and we’ll get a discussion going.
Q. I wonder about the JR Problem Analysis Sheet. I cannot find any mention about this sheet in the instructor manual. What is it used for? May the participants can use it for preparing their cases? Is it for the instructor to take notes?
The general comment during the whole manual is that all the information is confidential, so it is important to understand the role of the Problem Analysis Sheet.
A. The JR Problem Analysis Sheet is something that Patrick brought with him from Sanyo. It isn’t part of the original material. The reasoning behind the form is that there are breakdown sheets for JI and breakdown sheets for JM so why not have a breakdown sheet for JR?
But, because we advise JR participants to not write down anything about their problems because they are confidential, the form isn’t handed out in the 10 hour sessions. As a trainer, though, you get the form so that you can introduce it to management as a useful tool they may consider using when there is a problem that actually needs to be solved. It is a useful worksheet to work through the process with someone who is trying to decide how to handle a person problem. It also can be used as a way of documenting exactly what process was followed and what options were considered in making an important decision about how to treat an employee. In any case, it is up to the company management to decide whether to use the form and how to make sure its use is consistent with company human relations policies.
Q. For companies that already work with Lean and Kaizen, how can I explain the benefits of JM? I personally see benefits as:
- involving the supervisor and the operator in the improvements·
- an easy method for looking for improvement
- a tool to capture the actual status and to describe the proposed on to present the proposal
However, if the company already has their kaizen events will JM be useful for them? Can it be implemented together with Kaizen?
A. Companies that have a Lean Program don’t necessarily have a continuous improvement program. A Value Stream Map and a plan and schedule of kaizen workshops to implement Toyota Production System concepts and techniques is certainly a good idea. But it is done by certain members of management and some improvement specialists who represent a small percentage of the total number of people working in the plant. Almost everyone else is going about their daily routines and they are affected by or participate directly in the Lean Program infrequently.
Lean Program carries as its basic premise the thinking that the current conditions are “unacceptable” and must be re-made to eliminate large amounts of waste. On the other hand, the basic premise of continuous improvement is that conditions are as they are, but what can be done to make them just a little better? For example, I once visited an operator who had been in a kaizen workshop years before. He still remembered it as an enjoyable experience, even though it was a long time ago. Then he showed me how he had taken some tape and cardboard and made a few places on his work bench and machine to hold small tools he used frequently. Of course I was impressed with his “just go do it” attitude. But what impressed me even more was that this operator demonstrated the willingness to look critically at the current conditions of his own work and search for better ways as a result. And he didn’t just think about it and perhaps mention it to his supervisor to get the go ahead first. He took action. That’s the crucial part. He exhibited a higher level of engagement and initiative, the key to continuous improvement and bottom up management.
Q. In a company I work with workers are very qualified as they operate complex machines. We found out that apart of all the tasks that they do on the machine they also need a lot of knowledge. The trainee needs this knowledge before he/she can start on job training with JI.
The Continuous Improvement engineer from this company (with strong work knowledge as he was machine operator when finishing engineering), created another sheet (based on the JI breakdown sheet) where, together with the operator, he captures the knowledge. Then they use this sheet to teach the trainee the knowledge first, and then they start to train him how to operate the machine with JIBS and the 4 step method. Their manager is asking if it is OK.
For me it has logic. In Toyota Talent Jeff Liker writes about the learning process, but he is not mentioning the supporting materials for knowledge teaching. Mike Hoseus confirms in Toyota Culture that Toyota uses a lot of class training to teach the knowledge part of the job.
I wonder if you have any similar experience with a job that has a lot of knowledge involved and how a company can do to capture this knowledge.
A. Job Methods teaches how to make the best use of the people, machines and materials now available. Keep in mind that after a Lean kaizen event has eliminated a lot of waste, the new standard is now the “current conditions” and should continue to be improved in small, incremental ways by the people supervising and doing that work. But usually, the supervisor and people in the area try to adjust themselves to these conditions as best they can, and pretty much leave it that way (hopefully) until the next kaizen event.
Job Methods is the knowledge and skill development of people supervising and doing the work that is necessary for the control of waste in the daily use of manpower, materials, time, costs, output, safety, methods, etc., and to inspire and encourage suggestions for improvement. It is the spirit of kaizen and is essential for the long term success of a lean production system.
As for your second question, I think you’ve answered it for yourself. Knowledge and skill are both needed. JI is an excellent methodology for training to develop skill. When the objective is to develop knowledge there are many other ways, as well. I sure a good list could be made from things like classroom training, reading manuals and books, discussing technical matters with other operators and specialists, attending conferences, going to the manufacturer of the equipment, talking to engineers, working in the maintenance department, etc.
You can give assurances to the manager at your client that ideas for knowledge development that come from making breakdowns of jobs for instruction should be encouraged. Just make sure that the Job Instruction Breakdowns don’t become detailed procedures and the distinction between skill development and knowledge development are kept clear.