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Archive for July, 2011

Good questions from Barcelona!

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.

JI – Sticking to the Method in Step 3

Pat Graupp, TWI Senior Master Trainer, talks to us about “Sticking to the Method in Step 3”

 I taught a JI class two weeks ago in the Netherlands at a fabricator of custom metal parts where the trainees were, for the most part, front line workers dressed in dusty overalls with grease under their fingernails—they also roll their own cigarettes. For this class, they all spoke pretty good English but, of course, they are not native speakers. We had a job (measuring the thickness of a steel plate) which had six Important Steps and two or three Key Points for each step. The learner was a bit stressed knowing that he would be asked to say all those things in English. Sure enough, once the demonstration had progressed to Step 3, the Try-Out Performance, he struggled at first trying to say each item. But as they progressed through the repetitions, with each trial he was able more and more to remember the content. By the end of the step he was able to say everything correctly and in the correct order.

            The entire class was impressed at how well the method worked and they could imagine what the results of the training would be in their native language. After all, if someone could remember the whole job in English, they would surely be able to nail it in Dutch.

When supervisors, in any country, train using the JI 4-Step Method, it is very tempting for them to shorten the number of repetitions they have the learner perform the job in Step 3 where we ask them to repeat the job again and again, each time telling the instructor a little more about the content of the job—the Important Steps, the Key Points, and the reasons for the Key Points. They may feel that the learner is “smarter than that” and can say everything in one shot without having to actually do it four times, as required by the method. Or they may be embarrassed to ask the learner to repeat things “like a child” and so they hesitate to engage them in the full instruction process. In either case, though, these instructors misunderstand both the learners’ attitude toward being trained as well as the way in which human beings learn.

            We learn skills through repetition and practice. When learners talk about their experience being trained with the JI method, they almost always, with few exceptions, say that they “appreciate the trainer having the patience to take the time it took for them to learn the job completely.” In other words, they know that they cannot learn to do something “in one shot” and because they were given the opportunity to try it out several times until they got it right, they were more satisfied with the learning experience. Learners also say frequently that they are “more confident” in being able to do the job when they are taught with the JI method.

            When we lose confidence in the method and shortcut the required repetitions, it is because of our own unfounded insecurities. Though it may feel strange to the trainer repeating the job over and over again, to the learner it is “just right.” If you put yourself in the learner’s shoes, you realize that they are more concerned about being able to do the job and less about whether the trainer is holding a good impression of them—is not “talking down” to them. While this dynamic may certainly be at play, it is taken care of in Step 1 when we “put the person at ease” and quiet these concerns and fears.

            What is important is what sticks in the mind of the person doing the job—do they remember how to do the job completely and accurately. Christian Lange is a JI instructor at the General Dynamics NASSCO Shipyard in San Diego and he spoke out to the attendees of this year’s TWI Summit on the importance of sticking to the method. He explained how they had trained a person to do a job from a different trade group who had no experience in the work to be done. Not only did the person learn the job well but when asked to come back two months later to help out again he could remember all the Important Steps and Key Points because the breakdown was, as Christian put it, “tattooed on his brain.” The moral of the story is, if you shortcut the method you will not achieve the full learning.

            A week after I returned from the Netherlands I got a call from Frans Tollenaar who runs the plant there and is the driving force behind its TWI introduction. He was very excited to tell me about the enthusiasm they generated in their very first week of JI usage where they trained everyone in the pilot area, three laser cutting machines, how to measure the steel plate thickness. While this is a fundamental job that everyone knows how to do, a simple error here can lead to great losses. The veteran operators not only welcomed the training but were happy to admit when they learned something new from the instruction. The next thing you know, they’ll be breaking down how to roll a smoke.

Thanks Pat!

What do you think?

 

 

How we get JR used after the training is completed?

One of our newly certified Job Relations Trainers, Oscar Roche from “Down Under” (Visual Workplace Australasia) added a wrinkle to the end of the JR ten-hour class.  He said:   

 “In order to build on “learn by doing” I finish the session just done by saying: ‘I am now going to ask each of you to commit to one thing you will do in each of the 4 Foundations For Good Relations. I don’t mind how small this is, small is better at this stage. It might be something new you will do, it can be something you’ll keep doing, it might be something you’re already doing and can do better.   I would also like to see you apply the 4-Step method when you encounter a Job Relations problem. The bottom half of what I’m about to give you contains a “whiteboard model”. It is laid out exactly as you’ve seen.  Please write your name on the front of your Participant Guide.  I’m handing these “Do Tickets” out now. Please fill out the Do What in the Foundations of Good Relations now and give it back to me, with your Participant Guide. I’ll then photocopy the Do Ticket and give it back to you stuck in the front of your participant guide. In the next month, I will follow-up a few times with each of you individually to see how you are getting along, and to see if I can help.’

 I help the participants complete the Do Ticket. Ask a few that are finding it easy if they will read out what they have written as this will help the ones finding it hard. Emphasise “small things” and that it may be the continuation of things they are already doing, or do them better. If someone is really stuck, help them one on one after the session. No-one leaves any of the 4 boxes blank.

 What do you think?

Richard Abercrombie responded to Oscar.

 “Hello, Oscar.  

 I think they’re great ideas and I can see that you’re thinking beyond the 10 hour delivery to the kinds of things that are needed to actually get the method used.

 Here’s my suggestion.  Instead of you doing these things with the participants, why don’t you coach the person that each participant reports to in how to do this kind of follow-up.  The boss is the best person to establish the expectation that the method will be used.  And the boss is the best person to follow-up to see if expectations are being met and what should be done if not.  

 Think in terms of three roles for continuing results.  Role One:  Responsible for USING TWI.  Role Two:  Responsible for GETTING TWI USED.  Role Three:  Responsible for RESULTS.  Your job as a consultant is to deliver the 10 hours as the basic training for Role One and then work with the boss on how to do Role Two, in other words, doing the items below and other ways of coaching.)  Role Three is someone with P&L responsibility like Plant Manager, Section Head, Operations Manager, etc.

 By doing the things listed below yourself, this time, you’ve done a great job of preparing yourself to coach the boss on how to do the same thing.  By actually practicing the coaching yourself, you’ve gotten the feel for how to get someone else to do it.”

 Then Oscar said:

“In actual fact, when you think about it, if the boss was using the method properly there’d be no need for me to facilitate as the method itself  would drive his subordinates to use the method!”

 To which Richard replied:

“Right!  How can you tell if a person is using the method if you don’t know the method yourself?  And just as you have firsthand experience in using the method, you can think of ways to “prime the pump” to get others to do it and them see whether they understand by looking at what they do.  How can the boss do these things without walking the talk themselves?

 I really think this is the least appreciated requirement for getting results from TWI.  All of management should take the 10 hours, right to the top.  And it should be done as the first phase of introducing the program; management education with focus on how to get results after the basic training in the 10 hours.”

 Thanks for the great dialogue!

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