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.
What do you think?