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When to introduce the “Reasons Why”

The other day Richard Jackson asked Patrick Graupp – “When should I introduce the resaons why?”   We thought it was worth sharing the exchange with all our readers.  This question comes up  frequently in JI train the trainer sessions . 

 Richard said: “In session 2 When I am breaking down the Fire Underwriters’ Knot, I have always used the full JIB sheet on the board. I have included Reasons for Key Points. I know we are cramped for time here but I’ve thought that the Reasons are important enough to fit them in. I have still been able to meet the time markers pretty well. If Participants ask me why the Reasons column is not included in the Participant Guide, I tell them that the focus at that point is to get the Important Steps and Key Points. The reasons are really identified in the questioning to determine the Key Points. In other words, when we do a good job on identifying the key points, the Reasons pretty much fall out on their own. The Reasons are very important, but the focus at this point in the training is on getting the Important Steps and Key Points.

 What do you think? Should I just use the Important Steps and Key Points as shown in the manual and guide?”

 Patrick replied: “What I tell trainers here, in Session Two, is that FIRST the trainees need to learn what Important Steps and Key Points are before we get them focusing on reasons for Key Points. The reasons are a subset of the Key Points so if I don’t know what a Key Point is to begin with of course I won’t understand the reasons. So first things first, one at a time.

Like you said, though, we do find the reasons for the Key Points when we confirm, in the breakdown routine we teach in Session Two, if something can be a Key Point by asking why we do it that way or what would happen if we didn’t. So we’re not ignoring the reasons or leaving them out. But I don’t like to point these out, or put them on the board, until later in the course in Sessions Four or Five when breaking down the demonstration jobs. Doing this in Session Two would be giving them ‘more information than they can handle at one time.’

As you point out, the reasons for Key Points is one of most powerful parts of JI. We make full use of them in order to motivate workers to follow standard procedures because they know why they have to do the job that way. People will not do something that has “no meaning” (That is, there is no reason for doing it). So teach this part well by making sure they first understand Key Points and how to find them.”

What do you think?  Like this post? Let us know below.  Join the conversation – leave a comment.



You can’t implement TWI without leadership

You can’t implement TWI without leadership.  Here is a great example of a leader who has a plan and is bringing everyone along – slowly and carefully – to realize a successful implementation.  James McDonald, Manager of Development & Training at Libbey agreed to share his message to the project team. I especially liked his sports analogy and his understanding that TWI programs are implemented by people using skills that must be developed through practice, over time. 

Good morning Team,

 I hope you had a good weekend and were able to stay out of the heat.   I don’t know about you, but my mental wheel was spinning over the weekend, reflecting on the training class and opportunities before us.  I really enjoyed the time I was able to spend with you.  We should feel privileged that we have the opportunity and responsibility for developing and executing this journey for our facility and company.

 As I stated in closing Friday, I likened last week and the upcoming weeks to a football team’s journey. 

 We’ve had our draft and you were selected.  It’s a privilege to be on the team.  We all have a very specific role on the team and we have to be accountable to the team and to each other.  We need to support, encourage and lift each other up.   Our team will only be as strong as the weakest link.

 We have just completed our initial meeting with our Head Coach (Pat Graupp) and have been shown the tools and skill sets (JI and JR) needed to win in our game of continual improvement.  These are our blocking and tackling fundamentals.   If we don’t stick to them, we’ll lose play by play and eventually lose in the game of Continual Improvement.  We were given a copy of these fundamentals to carry with us at all times.  [I will be asking to see your JR and JI cards anytime I see you!  🙂 ]

 Once we reviewed our blocking and tackling fundamentals, we then performed a number of walk-throughs showing how those fundamentals and techniques should be applied when running specific plays that we’ve run in the past (the jobs we brought in).   We asked questions and as we ran these plays, we saw where the new blocking and tackling techniques (JI and JR) reveal a lot of gaps on how we’ve done things in the past. No wonder we’re losing some games.

 I believe we see the need to change the way we’ve approached this game in the past and we’re committed to putting forth the time and energy to develop these skills and change the outcome of the game going forward.

 Now, we’re still not ready to play the regular season yet because we need to have more practices and play some exhibition games and we’ll be doing that over the next 1-3 weeks as follows:

  •  If you kept them – give your handwritten copies of the job breakdowns you did in the front of the class to your group leaders. I’ll stop by the group leaders and pick these up and will type them into our Libbey template.     
  •   Pick a 2nd small breakdown to perform over the next week.  I will type these up as well.
  •  Over the next 1-2 weeks, I will schedule these practice sessions with you through your manager and supervisor.   

 Finally, we will build a specific game-plan for each of the 3 pilot areas.  There will be more to come on this process.

James McDonald

Manager of Development & Training

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?



Getting All Your JIBs in a Row.

One of our newly minted Certified Trainers raised the issue of how to provide notes for a number trainers instructing on a number of the same  JIBs provided to them.  Pat answers by focusing on the issue of the number of JIBs developed before the training occurred. He suggests a more developmental approach.  Please comment if you have some good ideas.

The Questions:

 I attended the 40 hr JI class back in December.  We are currently re-implementing JI here after a failed attempt last year.  There are 2 questions I was hoping to get some help with.  The first is, in our machining operation, we will be training somewhere near 100 JIBs per operator.  This will be spread out over several weeks.  We are currently trying to establish some documentation on how to communicate to instructors on what order the JIBs should be taught (an Operator training Plan).  I was wondering if anyone in the TWI community has encounter a similar issue and may have developed an effective way to establish and maintain a training plan such as this?

 Second, because we are trying to establish and maintain Standardized Work, and we will be using several different trainers to conduct the training on the same operation, we are going to be making 1 standard set of JIBs for each operation.  The problem we have come across is how do we provide “Instructor Notes” within a jib without complicating the JIBs or confusing the instructor?

I’m sure I’m not the first person to encounter these types of problems and was hoping the TWI community could provide some help based on other’s experiences.

Thank you very much.

Patrick Graupp Responded:
Hi.  This is Pat and I hope you’re doing well. BTW, our Danish friends are doing well and training a lot of JI classes.

My first impression was that 100 breakdowns in a few weeks seem like “biting off more than they can chew at one time.” In particular, that’s a lot of breakdowns to “road test” all at once. In other words, you have to learn from the breakdowns you make by trying them out and then fine tuning and improving them. Then the breakdowns you make thereafter will be better and better. It’s a development process. You can see from the Albany International case study how they learned to make breakdowns which was critical to their training success.

But you still need to make progress. So I think it’s better to select a smaller set of the jobs (not ALL of them) and focus on getting those trained and stabilized. That will be much more realistic for your machine operators to learn and master. If you’ve selected the right jobs (based on criteria you choose) then you will get the most “bang for your buck” and that will create momentum for moving on to the next set of jobs and so on. Better to move one strong step forward at a time rather than try to do it all in one swoop.

As for having several trainers using a common set of breakdowns, I think that is quite alright. That’s what LEGO did when they standardized jobs in a pilot project last year across three plants in Denmark, Hungary and Mexico. They had their “global trainers” create a common set of breakdowns and then let their “local trainers” teach using these breakdowns that crossed countries, languages, and cultures.

Let us know what other questions you have moving forward. Whatever you do, keep in touch so we can all learn from your experiences. Good luck with the project.

Best regards, Patrick Graupp

TWI JI: New Equipment

Our friend Jeff Kidner asks another great question.  Has this ever happened in your company?

We are trying to use JI at the moment on a whole new production line involving several new pieces of equipment. The project timeline only permits a few days of work-sharing the equipment with the equipment installers. In effect the JI instructors have had to write the breakdowns based on the knowledge gained from training off site with the manufacturers and what little time they have had on the machines themselves on site-albeit not fully functional.

 I was wondering if you have experience of using JI in a similar circumstance on new equipment, where the JI instructors knowledge may not be as extensive as where they are writing breakdowns for established operations and how best to manage this?

TWI Institute Master Trainer  Richard Abercrombie offered his insight:

Of course, this is an issue for management of the line organization, not something to be left to the wits of the JI instructors.  The plan for making this kind of change in production should include serious consideration of training and resources necessary to be successful from the very beginning.  

The Training Timetable is intended to be used whenever there are changes in production so that the training needs are addressed in a planned way.  In this case, management of the line organization owns the training timetable as one of the planning tools for implementing new production capacity.  The timeline for the project needs to identify the major milestones and the time and resources necessary to achieve them.  Training is one of those milestones and preparation of the instructors is a supporting task detail.

 Allowing insufficient access to the new equipment for instructors to prepare adequate breakdowns strikes me as a plan for trouble.

 But even if time is made available, you’ll learn more and more as the production operation begins.  I think key points will be coming up often as the instructors and operators gain experience and you’ll have to modify breakdowns accordingly.

The necessity for a support structure for TWI

Our own Richard Abercrombie was having lunch with a manager in one of our largest companies deploying TWI.  Richard and the manager discussed  the critical need for support for TWI at each site.  Richard paraphrases his converation below so we can all benefit from his expertise.

TWI Job Instruction (JI) focuses on that part of the line organization closest to the work.  In your company who would that be? Who are the people responsible for what happens “out on the genba.”  Examples are: Managers, Group Leaders, Team Leaders and Team Members.

 All of these people have a critical role to play in the implementation of TWI.  The Operators, of course, do the work and it’s the responsibility of management to see that they are well-trained.  Therefore, the Team Leader’s role is to USE Job Instruction.  The Group Leader’s role is to GET IT USED.  And the Manager’s role is to PRODUCE RESULTS from JI.

To fulfill each of these roles, some type of training is usually necessary.  First of all, it is necessary to complete the 10-hour sessions in Job Instruction.  In particular, the Manager and Group Leader(s) should participate fully in the 10-hour sessions so they have a concrete knowledge of the JI plan and how to make it work on the production floor.  The Manager is a bridge to middle and upper management and is in a position to understand how to translate company objectives into specific action plans for Job Instruction with the Group Leader(s).  On that basis, the Group Leaders can direct and guide the Team Leaders in the use of Job Instruction in support of these company objectives. 

Without the active and ongoing interest by the Manager and Group Leader, there will be no traction for Job Instruction on the production floor.  Active interest does not mean that they just talk about how good it is.  They must use Job Instruction as a production tool the same as any other production tool currently in place.

After being trained in Job Instruction, the Manager and Group Leader(s) need to be trained in how to coach their subordinates.  The coaching consists of helping Team Leaders understand the importance training according to a plan and making sure they develop and maintain a Training Timetable.  It also involves helping them improve their skill of breaking down jobs in preparation for instruction, and then encouraging them in the use the 4-Step Method while training a Team Members on specific jobs.  To accomplish this type of coaching, the Group Leader has to fully develop their own Job Instruction skills.

To provide this training and development, sometimes staff personnel, for example, the Training Department, Quality Control, or Continuous Improvement are utilized for this purpose.  But the appropriate Manager must first lay out just how the staff resources will assist the Group Leader to gain the skill of Job Instruction and the ability to coach Team Leaders. 

Staff people are most qualified to fulfill this role when they have completed the 40-hour Job Instruction train-the-trainer.  In other words, while they will be active in delivering the 10-hour sessions to Job Instruction trainers, they have another role, which, for want of a better term, might be called a TWI follow-up coach to the line organization.

The reason behind the necessity for such a support structure is the notion that “you and I are interested in what the boss is interested in.”  Therefore, to make Job Instruction “the way we do business on the production floor ” and not a casual, once-in-a-while project, the boss must be visibly and concretely driving the process.

Richard Abercrombie, TWI Institute Master Trainer

When is a picture NOT worth a thousand words?

In the manufacturing workplace good pictures, schematics, blueprints, and detailed specifications are all essential and routine requirements of the work.   I need to distinguish these documents from what I am about to talk about.  You see  I’ve been a  bit worried  lately by the trend toward written step by step directions and pictures  in nicely prepared, colorful, laminated “work  instructions” being used a substitute for good training.  These documents have never been easier to produce and store electronically. Anyone with a computer and digital camera can design, save and print endless work instructions. There is also excellent software available to support that activity and produce professional quality documents at the push of a button.   Yet these documents, time and time again, fail to produce the desired results.   I can almost hear the supervisor, who put many hours into the work instructions, saying:  “Why can’t they read what’s there? The instructions are perfect, if they just follow them.”      I had a discussion about this with a very sophisticated operations manager at a major international company. His goal, he said, is to make the work instructions so crystal clear that, after reading the instructions and looking at the pictures, anyone with a modicum of skill with the tools of the trade could come in and do the job .  He lamented that he hadn’t gotten there yet. After-all they were still finding defects in the work and they needed to inspect, rework  and repair whenever a new operator came on board.  Therefore, it must be the documentation that  needs improvement.    

 At the TWI Institute we know detailed, illustrated work instructions work poorly because they  engage the learner only on a visual level and rely on their reading and spacial relations skills.   We know the best practices in training require engaging the learner on all  levels: seeing, hearing and touching. Or as the  old Chinese proverb said:  “When I hear, I forget. When I see, I remember. When I do, I understand.”  We know: one on one dialogue with practice yields the best training results.  So, yes I’m a bit worried about the fate of companies that are spending their scarce training resources on detailed illustrated work instructions that neither work nor instruct. They ought to be providing sound proven training which clearly takes more effort at  the start,  but,  pays out great dividends in error free work and customer satisfaction at the finish.  

Steve Grossman, Director     




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