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TWI Blog is back

The TWI Blog for the TWI Institute is back after a short break.  Upon our return from the holiday break we have been busy booking our new train the trainer classes,  contacting our friends and making new ones.  The new classes are listed at  .  Talk to Lynne Harding if you are interested in registering.  We are looking forward to a year of more blogs with more useful information than ever before for our growing community of practice.  Please let Steve Grossman know if you have a story you want posted that will help others in deploying TWI.

Steve Grossman Director, TWI Institute

2010 A year of accomplishment – thanks to you!

The TWI Institute, Bob, Pat, Steve and Lynne want to take this opportunity to thank you for all the good work you do all year. As we look back at 2010, we also thank you for supporting what we have been able to accomplish this year.

  • We passed the 425 mark for Certified Trainers (100 this year).
  • Three Webinars were completed with a total of over 400 participants.
  •  The Blog has been running all year with over 300 hits a month. We have some exciting entries planned for next year. 
  • We hosted 6 benchmarking visits.  
  • The TWI Institute Coaching Service was instituted.
  • The second book by Pat and Bob was competed and published! Implementing TWI.
  • A new service was inaugurated: Implementation Assessment.  The assessment of an organization’s degree of implementation of TWI programs.
  • Another successful TWI Summit with our partners at Lean Frontiers.
  • We set another new record for shipping TWI materials to our certified trainers.
  • We presented a TWI workshop at the annual NIST MEP 2010 Conference.
  • We presented a workshop to an SRO crowd at the 2010 AME Conference.
  • We completed the translations of materials for JI in Spanish and French.
  • We delivered ten hour, and train the trainer classes in the U.S. and eight countries around the world.
  • We have delivered and promoted TWI in Healthcare; a growing area of need.
  • We delivered four regional informational seminars in the U.K., Czech Republic, Canada and Western N.Y.

None of this would have been possible without you and your belief in TWI.  We look forward to another great, even greater year in 2011 and with your support we’ll do it.

Steven Spear talks to us about TWI as “a powerful approach to creating and maintaining” workforce engagement

Patrick and I were just a little intimidated when approaching Steven Spear at the 2010 TWI Summit for him to write the foreword for our new book Implementing TWI: Creating and Managing a Skills Based Culture that was published by Productivity Press in November 2010. Who wouldn’t be? We learned so much from his articles and books, especially from his 1999 classic article Decoding the DNA of the Toyota Production System, Steven Spear and H. Kent Bowen that is posted on our web site. We could not have been more pleased with his timely message that is worth reading as a reminder of why we are all so passionate about getting the TWI Program back into the mainstream of training today.

Bob Wrona, Executive Director TWI Institute

 Companies are under ever increasing pressure to remain on the competitive cutting edge.  A fully engaged workforce is essential for doing this successfully, and Training Within Industry (TWI) is a powerful approach to creating and maintaining this engagement.

 The increasing competitive pressure comes from a variety of forces. 

  •  Economic development in Asia, South America, and Eastern Europe has increased the number of potential rivals challenging for customers loyalties.
  • Incredible improvements in communication and transportation have converted those potential rivals in actual ones.
  • Scientific and technological advances compress the half-life on any market offering’s viability, increasing the demand for ever faster improvement and innovation in development, design, production, and delivery.

 These three forces are significant under any circumstances.  Add to this the fallout of the world wide economic recession the last few years.  All organizations have to rapidly reconfigure how the bring value to market as customers have become more circumspect in terms of how they are going to satisfy needs that have changed in significant, discontinuous ways.

 That workforce engagement is essential is also without question.  A naive view might be that increased technological sophistication has increased the capacity for a select brain trust to do the hard ‘thinking’ of what to sell and how to make it, leaving the remainder of the organization to do nothing more than be button pushing monkeys for automated equipment and processes.

 This belief that mind and muscle are separable is simply wrong, at least as wrong now as it was in the past.  In the heyday of scientific management, it was thought that a select few could do the time motion studies to reveal how the remaining masses could work most effectively and efficiently.  This missed incorporating in work design the subtleties of circumstances known only by those involved in actually doing work, and it missed incorporating the additional critical perspective other people might have brought to the design.  Separating mind from muscle had no basis other than the elitist social construct of the day.   

The need for broad engagement has only gone up, not down.  Walk into any work environment–manufacturing, healthcare, and any service sector–and the number of distinct professions needed to accomplish work has gone up by many multiples and the sophistication of the equipment people use to complete their work has increased exponentially as well.  Creating value is ever more a team effort, with the skills required of individual team members ever more challenging in their acquisition and demanding in their expression.  Manufacturing is no longer the physically hard work of wrench turning–like Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times or a character in Diego Rivera’s fresco, Detroit Industry.  It is cutting edge physics, chemistry, and increasingly biology brought to bear in creating products useful to society.  The amount of required know how is considerable.

Which brings us to training.  Success depends on staying ahead of the curve, and staying ahead of the curve depends on engaging the minds and the muscle of everyone in the organization.  How then, to get that engagement?  It is unrealistic to expect that people will arrive with the skills already intact.  Even were they products of the most successful education, and we know not all education is so successful, they’ll lack the job specific skills and knowledge to succeed.  People could acquire skills through experience alone, but that is both time consuming and unreliable.  How do you ensure people get the right experiences at the right time?  Or, people could be developed in a mentored apprenticeship fashion.  But that too takes considerable time and produces uneven results.

Therefore, an essential ingredient in being competitive is having a reliable system for developing skills.  This is where Training Within Industry comes in: Job Instruction training to bring novices up to speed, Job Methods training so they could be active agents in improving what they did and how they did it, and Job Relations training that teaches the foundations of positive employee relations.

Graupp and Wrona bring many examples of companies that embraced these elements of TWI, improving their competitiveness by improving their capacity to fully engage their workforce productively.  These examples can serve as inspiration and models for years.

With best wishes for continued success,

Steven Spear

Sr. Lecturer, MIT Sloan School of Management, Author, The High Velocity Edge–How Market Leaders Leverage Operational Excellence to Beat the Competition.

TWI at the AME 2010 Conference

The mood at the AME conference last week in Baltimore was decidedly more upbeat than 2009. Over 2000 people gathered in a community of learners and teachers. Over 400 of them were from the field of healthcare and many were from all over the world (beyond North America).
We made new friends and caught up with our many old friends throughout the five days. The buzz was about investing in people because no program is successful without the support of the organization at every level. Of course TWI is built on the foundation that investing in people is the way to success in any enterprise.
TWI was on the minds of many. Mentioned in a number of presentations as critical to the success and sustainability of Lean initiatives, Patrick, Bob and Steve were busy answering questions after every breakout session. The interest has never been higher in both manufacturing and healthcare.
Bob and Patrick had a sold out Friday workshop on Implementing TWI. It was based on the content of their new book, Implementing TWI: Creating and Managing a Skills Based Culture. (Productivity Press)
We will be adding more on the conference in the next weeks as we reflect on all the learning.

A “Sneak Peek” at Implementing TWI


Productivity Press will be releasing the new book by Pat Graupp and Robert Wrona in December.  In Implementing TWI: Creating and Managing a Skills Based Culture, they present a compendium of exemplary TWI program implementations and argue for the need to gain active involvement of the entire enterprise to insure success.  

The best way to energize people is to provide them with the tools they need to get their jobs done in the most effective way. For the most part, people want to be proud of their work, and they want to be rewarded for the good job they do. The best way to channel that energy into positive workplace relationships is to provide supervisors with the skills they need to lead people just like TWI did during WWII, like Toyota has done since adopting TWI in 1951, and as you will learn from the case studies in this book.

The book contains case studies with contributions from the people who were there and lived the experience.  Two examples are presented below.

  Nixon Gear President Dean Burrows

Many companies approach economic downturns with the focus to reduce costs, reduce investment, and “hunker-down” for the impending storm. At Nixon Gear we used this as an opportunity to invest in the future of our company, employees, and customers. We weathered this storm with smart investment, strong cash management, and self-funding the improvements. Through the acceleration of Lean and the resurging use of TWI, we exit the recession with a stronger balance sheet than when we entered it. Although our volumes were down 40%, our stock value dipped only 5%. The improvements that were driven during this downturn, through Lean and TWI, allowed us to double our cash on hand, reduce our inventories by 43%, reduce lead times by 50%, while improving our margins. As we exit this recession, we find ourselves better positioned to exceed our customers’ expectations and to capitalize on business opportunities.

By dedicating the resources required, and committing the organization to implement the vision, success is inevitable. We may be busy, but we are never too busy to improve. We plan two to three kaizen events each month. As the improvements are implemented, they are locked-in and sustained with JI. In between our planned kaizen events, we coach employees on how to use JM to further drive the organization forward. Having a company resource and a well-trained workforce on TWI has made a measureable difference and distinction in our business. If you do not dedicate the time to improve, you will always find an excuse not to do it. You will be too busy, not have enough people, or create another excuse. As we improved our processes and freed up resources, thanks in good part to TWI, those resources were then used to improve other processes. It is a self-funding process.

 Albany International Plant Manager Scott Curtis

As the global downturn hit bottom, Albany International was dealing with many tough decisions, one of those being how to further reduce raw material costs. Faced with several suppliers running at less than full capacities and looking for opportunities to reduce costs through increased volume, we had to make some tough choices. One of those choices hinged on our ability to quickly absorb more volume without an interruption in service levels or quality. Based on the gains experienced over the last three years, in large part due to the TWI and Lean methodologies implemented, AIMP was fortunate enough to gain the market share to become the key monofilament supplier to the company. This decision did, however, result in the plant closure of another supplier. This could have been a different outcome for AIMP had we not experienced the improvements we had over the last three years. Moving forward, AIMP is in a much better position to react. The plant now has the training infrastructure and an improved ability to quickly respond to a rapidly changing world.

 Look for the book coming in December for the rest of the story!

Steven Grossman – Director TWI Institute


A special thank you goes out to all our Certified Trainers who took a few moments to fill out the survey emailed a couple of weeks ago.  A full report can be found on the TWI Institute website:


What follows is a brief summary – please leave comments – we love to know what you think.

Second Annual Survey of the TWI Institute Certified Trainers

In August 2010 we undertook the second annual survey of the TWI Institute Certified trainers.  The purpose of the survey was to find out the following:

  • How many of the TWI certified trainers were still active. If not – why not.
  • How many training classes they taught this year. 
  • How many people were trained?
  • How did this compare to last year?
  • If they plan to train more or less next year than this year.
  • What TWI Institute services they used this year.
  •  If they are interested in information about TWI Problem Solving Training.
  • What they would like to see at the TWI Summit next May.
  • What services they would like to see the TWI Institute provide next year.

The survey was sent via email to 304 Certified Trainers.   The TWI Institute trainers are located in 39 states in the U.S. and eight countries.  These certified trainers work in 100 client companies and 22 MEPs and a small number of private consulting firms. 

The survey was answered by 125 trainers, or 42 percent of the 304 delivered surveys.   The sample was a representative, self selected sample.   

  • Seventy-eight percent, of the respondents reported they were currently delivering training and working with TWI.  The rest provided a variety of reasons they were not active such as being laid off or promoted.  The active respondents averaged about 5 training classes this past year. They averaged 8.5 participants in each class.   About half said they delivered more than the prior year, about one-third delivered the same as last year and the remainder said they had fewer training deliveries.  Forty-one percent said they planned on more deliveries next year, 44 percent planned on the same and 15 percent said they planned on fewer next year. 
  • When asked what TWI Institute Services they used this year they responded as shown on the following table.
a)  Information on the website 79%
b) Information on the phone 35%
c)  Help from Master Trainers 36%
d)  Additional training 13%
e) Additional Train the Trainer 17%
f) Train the trainer for clients N/A Companies
  MEP 26%
g) The TWI Institute  Blog 47%
  •  When asked if they are interested in information about TWI Problem Solving Training 18% said yes, 28% said no, and 54% said they did not know.

The last two questions (8 &9) were open-ended.  Question 8 asked what they would like to see at the TWI Summit next May.  The respondents wanted a greater variety of topics,  metrics related to JI success, class delivery tips, on-site plant tours, round tables, TWI Problem Solving,  healthcare, Lean and job breakdown creation.

Question 9 asked what services they would like to see the TWI Institute provide next year. The respondents asked for access documents online, roll out strategy, Problem Solving Training, information on any updates or modifications made to materials, information about what other companies are doing, on-site consulting services allowing the TWI Trainer or Master Trainer to “coach” the TWI trainees, management training, Network of TWI trainers on the webpage, TWI materials in Spanish as part of the disk, and replacement wire sets that are the same as my original set.

The ability to generalize to the entire population is limited because the sampling was self selected from the pool of possible respondents. Having said that, we believe the survey revealed the average active Certified Trainer works in a company or MEP, holds about one class every two months which has 9 participants, plus observers, conducted about the same number of classes this past year as the year before and predicts the same for next year.   In addition, he or she uses the TWI Institute website, reads the blog, and doesn’t know enough about PS to make an informed decision. 

  The results of this years’ survey will inform planning for the rest of this year and next year, including plans to:

  • Run a webinar on pushing through corporate roadblocks when TWI projects get pushed to the side
  • Run a webinar on sustaining the TWI program (training is the beginning – not the end)
  • Run another webinar in TWI Problem Solving.
  • Develop more metrics for the impact of JI and JM
  • Update the Certified Trainer Data to insure continued accurate contact information. 
  • Continue to improve features and usefulness of the TWI Institute website.
  • Broaden the audience and authors on the TWI Institute blog.
  • Expand the post training coaching for Certified Trainers.
  • Continue to work with MEP trainers to increase the referrals for Train the Trainer
  • Give Certified Trainers more information on other than training TWI maintenance activities necessary to sustain the program. 
  • Update the breakout sessions at the TWI Summit to appeal to a more experienced audience.
  • Follow –up on TWI Institute service requests.
  • Continue to increase the TWI Healthcare data base
  • Create a network of trainers
  • Follow-up with another survey next August updated to eliminate confusing wording, ask more questions about TWI Institute services and Certified Trainers job descriptions. 

Steve Grossman – Director

A Visit to Toyota

Recently, Bob Wrona and I made a presentation to a continuous improvement group from an international company at their annual CI conference.  The day before our presentation they invited us along on a tour they were taking of the Toyota, Georgetown  Kentucky complex. I’m sure many of you have been there.  I wonder if, like me, you were in awe of the size and complexity of this operation?      

Unlike the general public, following the standard tour, we had the opportunity to meet with an Operations Manager.  He spoke to us about the Toyota Production System (TPS).   He talked about the role of the team leader and identified two key components. First, treat the team members with respect and second  keep the workers from needing to do anything “abnormal” (his word.)   Of course the second component got people’s attention. What did he mean by “abnormal”?  He explained that the workers were trained to follow standardized work and complete their tasks in a prescribed manner and timeframe. If they were busy  solving problems and/or looking for the causes of those problems; they are not doing their standardized work and therefore doing something out of the ordinary or “abnormal”.  The team leader’s job is to  take this burden from  the team member whenever a problem is identified  and get them back to “normal” as soon as possible.    

How do they get back to “normal”?  Through standardized work which, once codified, must be trained to and followed with care.  On the toyotageorgetown website Teruyuki Minoura says: “It’s important to create a climate in which people are trained to follow rules and standards as if they were second nature  … This kind of reflexive response is a hallmark of Toyota’s monozukuri.”  (process of making things)

The website goes on to define standardized work. It consists of three elements: Takt-Time, Working Sequence, and Standard In-Process Stock.  “Takt-Time” is the time which should be taken to produce a component on one vehicle. This timing mechanism is based on the monthly production schedule. Daily total operating time is figured on the basis of all machinery operating at 100% efficiency during regular working hours. The takt time allows us to produce many parts of many different types for use in vehicles on the production schedule and to supply those parts to each process on the assembly line at the proper time. This keeps production on schedule and permits a flexible response to a change in sales.  Working Sequence refers to the sequence of operations in a single process which leads a floor worker to produce quality goods efficiently and in a manner which reduces overburden and minimizes the threat of injury or illness. Standard In-Process Stock is the minimum quantity of parts always on hand for processing on and between sub-processes. It allows the worker to do his job continuously in a set sequence of sub-processes, repeating the same operation over and over in the same order.”  (

 Reading between the lines we see the indelible outline of Job Instruction (JI).  People must be trained to follow  a process that leads a floor worker to do their job correctly,  safely, and conscientiously; with a  set sequence of steps repeated over and over, in the same order.  

When the manager was asked about how they do problem solving, he replied: “The tendency is to jump to a solution before getting to the root of the problem”. He talked about the need to return to the standardized work to make sure the problem is not imbedded in it.  So, he said, we ask the team member to go through the job step by step and recite the key points to us. Sound familiar?  The assumption is they have been trained and know the Important Steps and Key Points (and, I assume, the reasons why).  We didn’t have time to talk about their entire training program, which is quite extensive,  but clearly JI is in there.  

It’s one thing to read about Toyota (TPS)  and how they do things and quite another to see it for yourself. I recommend it.   


TWI Institute partners with the University of Phoenix

Last month we said: “The TWI Institute and University of Phoenix have completed an articulation agreement to provide continuing education credits  under their Prior Learning Assessment program.  The following ten hour  TWI Institute classes are approved for  0.5 credits: Job instruction Training; Job Relations Training; Job Methods Training; Job Safety Training.  Following successful completion of the corresponding ten hour class, the following 40 hour train the trainer classes are approved for 2.5 credits:  Job Instruction Train the Trainer;  Job Relations Train the Trainer; Job Methods Train the Trainer; Job Safety Train the Trainer.  The combination of the two equal a three credit undergraduate course.   We were pleased to be selected to participate in this program.  For more information go to: ”

We are now on the list. Go the webpage and scroll down, select “stuv”, find “TWI Institute…” , and click.  If you are going to or have recently taken TWI training contact  UP for information.  


TWI Institute classes are approved for college credit

Are your employees upgrading their skills and involved in getting degrees to improve their chances of advancement? The TWI Institute and University of Phoenix have completed an articulation agreement to provide continuing education credits  under their Prior Learning Assessment program.  The following ten hour  TWI Institute classes are approved for  0.5 credits: Job instruction Training; Job Relations Training; Job Methods Training; Job Safety Training.  Following successful completion of the corresponding ten hour class, the following 40 hour train the trainer classes are approved for 2.5 credits:  Job Instruction Train the Trainer;  Job Relations Train the Trainer; Job Methods Train the Trainer; Job Safety Train the Trainer.  The combination of the two equal a three credit undergraduate course.   We were pleased to be selected to participate in this program.  For more information go to: 

Look for TWI institute to join the list soon!


The Learning Curve

As I work with people who are new to TWI, I observe their learning process  and realize, anew each time, that there is always a learning curve from awareness to understanding to expertise. Everyone must go through it. I have labeled the six phases or periods in this process (somewhat lightheartedly) as:  1. I heard about TWI. How do I get certified? 2. The Aha! moment. 3. Oh, now I get it! 4. The Oops! phase. 5. Okay now, I really see how this works. 6. Now I feel competent to do and teach this.    

 It starts with: “I heard about TWI and looked at your website. How do I get certified?”  This is the awareness period. The learners are aware of the program and maybe know something about it, but think it is all about them getting trained.  They need to learn much more about TWI, but first we always ask: Why did you call us?    

Once we spend some time discussing why they need to use TWI in their company, we get down to the real issues driving the inquiry. That’s when we get to what I call “the Aha! moment”. This is when they realize that TWI is a program that will change the way they do business not simply a once and done training program.  It is at this point we lose some. Those who remain are usually anxious to get started with the ten hour class and/or benchmarking successful implementers. 

Once they do either or both they reach another level of learning I call “Oh, now I get it!”  This is the, “a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing” phase.  Failures after the initial training occur because, in truth, they don’t get it.  So, unless someone is there to coach them through their first efforts to create materials and use them, they frequently do not know what they are doing wrong.  This is especially true in JI and JM.   

That’s why the next period on the curve is called “the Oops! phase”.  You see, no matter how good the instructor, there is a period of practice and learning that must be experienced. This is when coaching is most important. It is also a critical phase in the learning curve and sometimes will determine whether the learner quits or improves.  I believe many implementations get stalled at this point due to a loss of confidence in the program or themselves.  This is why coaching is so very important.

After some practice and coaching the learners are at the “Okay, now I really see how this works” period of learning and go on from there to use TWI with great success in the company.

Finally, some may be ready to take their training to the next level, Trainer the Trainer.  Train the Trainer, once completed, puts them in a privileged group who have taken the time to develop deeper knowledge and skills in the TWI program.  They are now prepared to train others in the basics of implementing TWI, and to become a TWI Champion in their company. Now they feel competent “to do and teach this” (phase 6).  From there on the company must support the program and allow the learner to practice the skills they have learned. 

No one knows that better than our expert trainers that the learning curve never ends. It continues upward as, even the experts, continuously strive to improve and learn. 

So, if you are just starting out, be patient, the learning curve takes time and a degree of dedication, but, the long term returns will be great for both you and your company.


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