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Building a Global Learning Organization

Read a synopsis of Patrick Graupp’s new book (written with Gitte Jakobsen and John Vellema from the LEGO Group) about how the LEGO Group successfully expanded standardized work across their global organization.  The book takes an insiders’ look at the planning model used to extend standardization throughout this multinational, multicultural organization and will surely provide insights into how your organization can do the same, even if it is just department to department.

What People Don’t Know About LEAN

If you are viewing this blog, you are in-the-know. You most likely know a lot about LEAN and continuous improvement.

But many people that are trying to implement LEAN into their businesses are struggling. And in many cases they are missing something that is as basic to LEAN success as 5S, or Kaizen, or Kanban.

And this fundamental element is making tremendous differences in businesses from Toyota to the corner bakery.

The purpose of this blog is to ask you to join with a number of practitioners, lean bloggers, authors, consultants and people in the know to please point all your friends & associates to this new non-commercial website to spread the word about TWI and bring it in to the mainstream of Lean:

We’re going to list everyone participating in this community effort on a “supporters” page on the site and are asking those supporters to point their followers/clients/members to the site several times in 2014. We’d like to get a confirmation one way or another by February 28th so we can start the campaign in earnest then.

TWI – The Missing Link to Sustainable Lean

Job Instruction and Habit Formation

Everywhere in life people form habits. Some are good habits – like always buckling your seat belt before starting the car.  Some are bad habits – like texting while driving.  In the workplace people develop habits too.  It is important to the success of a business that workers develop the very best habits, habits that predictably yield the best combination of Quality, Product delivery, and Cost.  TWI Job Instruction (JI) provides the method to develop and standardize those good work habits and thereby get those reliably good results.

“The formation of habits has been studied extensively by behavioral scientists and sports psychologists alike.   Understanding how desirable habits are created and undesirable habits are replaced is invaluable,  …….   What is required is that you are aware of what you want to achieve, that you know the motions you must intentionally repeat to accomplish the goal, and that you execute your actions with no emotions or judgments; just stay on course.”

Sterner, Thomas (2010-10-07).  The Practicing Mind: Bringing Discipline and Focus Into Your Life (p. 47). Mountain Sage Publishing. Kindle Edition.

{The Job Instruction Breakdown (JIB), along with demonstration of the job in Step 2, describes how the tasks are to be done.  When trainees successfully follow this JIB, as evidenced in Step 3, it proves that they understand and can execute the job correctly.  Staying the course is proven in Step 4.}

“One study I am aware of states that repeating a particular motion sixty times a day over twenty-one days will form a new habit that will become ingrained in your mind.”

Sterner, Thomas (2010-10-07).  The Practicing Mind: Bringing Discipline and Focus Into Your Life (p. 47). Mountain Sage Publishing. Kindle Edition.

{In Step 4 of JI, as a person keeps performing in accordance with the JIB, a new habit is established in about 3 weeks.  That is why auditing and staying in close contact for a while is so important.}

“Practicing these proper motions so many times a day over so many days creates a habit of motion that feels right and natural and is done without conscious thought.”

Sterner, Thomas (2010-10-07).  The Practicing Mind: Bringing Discipline and Focus Into Your Life (p. 48). Mountain Sage Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Once workers get used to the new way of performing their jobs it will no longer feel strange or awkward.  It will just ‘feel right’.  In other words, it will have become a new habit – a good habit, producing good results.  And once this best way of performing a job becomes standardized across a workforce, Key Performance Indicators stabilize at improved levels.

Learn By Doing



Unlike traditional classroom training in which there is much lecture and utilization of Power Point presentations, TWI Institute employs strong learn-by-doing components in order to actually impart Skills to people being trained.

Skills, even those that look simple or easy like swimming, cannot be learned from a book or from a lecture. No matter how many books about swimming you read or how many films you watch, you will never be able to swim until you actually get into the water and begin to learn-by-doing. You will be helped to become a really good swimmer and gain this skill more quickly by accepting help from a swimming instructor.


INITIAL TRAINING: (TWI Institute Master Trainer – 5 Days at Company location)

1.  During the initial week of training, the TWI Institute Master Trainer includes a lot of DOING through practice using time-tested methods. This develops skills by taking participants beyond just coaching Xs and Os on a chalk board.

2.  Classroom practices are like blocking and tackling drills and the running of plays in full pads. The TWI Institute Master Trainer is like the sports coach that runs the drills while providing individual instruction and guidance.

3.  Participants practice making Job Instruction Breakdowns (JIBs) and actually DOING Job Instruction training right on the shop floor. This happens outside of the 10-hour class sessions as participants begin to apply ON THE JOB what has been first practiced in the classroom. This is like a controlled scrimmage in which the Master Trainer is coaching in between plays.

 APPLICATION IN PILOT AREA: (During the next several weeks – Trainers focus their new skills on improving KPIs)

4.  Participants from the initial week of training begin to make JIBs and to train workers by using those JIBs along with the 4-Step Method. This occurs in the company-selected Pilot Area. Here is where participants ACTUALLY DO valuable work while they hone their newly acquired training skills. All this work is targeted in order to improve Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) by reducing scrap, rework, production delivery times, equipment downtime, etc. in the Pilot Area. REAL JIBs are written, REAL training happens and REAL improvement begins and a great deal of deep learning takes place which will later be seen to result in even greater benefit. These few weeks are like actual sports contests in which we experience some successes (plays that worked well and we scored) as well as some temporary failures (where we fumbled and weren’t able to score). This kind of FEEDBACK can only be gained through actual DOING. Trainers and supervisors encounter situations and circumstances which could not be understood apart from real-life experience; and this FEEDBACK will be the springboard for taking employee skills (and the KPI improvements we will realize from their application) to a much higher level.

JI FOLLOW-UP COACHING: (TWI Institute Master Trainer – 3 days at Company location)

5.  The TWI Institute Master Trainer reviews the FEEDBACK from the past several weeks of application in the Pilot Area and works with the participants to correct the problems experienced. This is like the coach who helps the players to make adjustments after reviewing game film. The Master Trainer also works with line supervisors and managers (they will be the coaches and play callers going forward) so that they improve their skills in planning and TWI coaching.

LINE SUPERVISORS AND TRAINERS CONTINUE USE OF TWI SKILLS IN PILOT AREA AND BEYOND: (The TWI Institute remains available to help or advise, as needed.)

6.  The team owner/manager keeps everyone’s eyes on the scoreboard (KPIs) as the line supervisors continue to reduce scrap, rework, production delivery times, equipment downtime, etc.  (score points/goals/touchdowns) in their areas of coaching responsibility. The trainers and supervisors from the Pilot Area become valuable resources of experience and know-how as the Company begins to expand the training and use of TWI in order to significantly improve KPIs beyond the initial Pilot Area. Prior to expanding to new areas, most companies choose to send one or more of the people to at 40-hour Train-the-Trainer class conducted by the TWI Institute. This 40-hour training equips and certifies Company trainers to conduct the 10-hour class sessions in order to spread skill throughout the organization. It also builds greater in-depth understanding enabling participants to become internal experts who are able to advise and coach trainers and supervisors in other areas as implementation spreads.

Good help is easy to find

Why is it that so many companies that begin to implement Job Instruction (JI) on their own soon bog down far short of achieving the results they had anticipated?

It’s self-evident that a company needs to keep improving if it is to be healthy and profitable into the future. One way of improving a business is by stabilizing and standardizing company processes to significantly reduce variation and increase predictability of Quality, Product Delivery, Cost, and Safety performance. In its’ search to standardize and improve, a company finds references to the use of TWI and Job Instruction (JI), especially in the popular books about how Toyota or other successful organizations operate.

Once a company finds out about TWI and decides that Job Instruction can help them, there are two possibilities open to them. They can seek the help of experts, like the TWI Institute, or they can attempt to implement JI alone. One feature of Job Instruction is that the ideas seem so simple it can be tempting to think that just a “Go ahead” from management will suffice for people at the ground level to grab hold of them and successfully implement. Evaluating TWI from a distance can be a little like watching a professional golfer strike the ball. It looks like such a simple and fundamentally balanced game – but just try doing it without the discipline of practice that follows well-established and time-tested techniques along with guidance of an experienced instructor and the results will almost always be disappointing.

Some companies implement JI on their own and succeed.  Same thing in golf; some people can be very successful with almost no help. Hall of Fame Golfer and six-time major champion Lee Trevino was great without ever having taken a lesson in his life. But then again Lee has claimed to have earned extra money as a youth by challenging competitors to rounds of golf where he used only a shovel and taped-up 32-ounce glass Dr. Pepper bottle. Most of us have a much better chance of bettering our scores with lessons from a professional.

Two matters in which companies often fall down in attempting to implement JI without help are:

Lay out a Plan that can be reasonably supported. Selecting a good pilot area is very important as is getting the right people on board. A company should select areas that are manageable and that the company recognizes need improvement. Selection of quantifiable key performance indicators within the pilot area is important because that is what the company should focus on improving and how the company will be able to judge success. When the TWI Institute helps organizations at this stage, the ground work is laid for focus of improvement.

Provide sufficient Skills for the trainers and line supervisors. In order for a company to be able to train their people in the best way to perform critical tasks, they first must have the skill to breakdown the jobs into bite-sized teachable tasks in a way that is easy for operators to understand and remember. When the TWI Institute provides training for Company trainers and supervisors, the Company can be sure that a Certified Trainer will follow the tried-and-true instruction format that has been so successfully used by thousands of organizations across all types of cultures and types of businesses. Good training and the Follow Up provided by the TWI Institute gives the Company every opportunity to get great benefit from the training as will be borne out in the improved Key Performance Indicators.


At the TWI Institute, we always work with the people who actually do the jobs, whether it’s Job Instruction, Job Relations, Job Methods, or Job Safety. The reason we do that is because that is where valuable ideas are. One of the reasons that Job Methods (JM) is so useful as part of a healthy suggestion program is that it engages the people on the job in thinking about and identifying improvements utilizing the Manpower, Materials and Machines now available.

In a recent article published by West Central Initiative entitled Workforce Training: Donnelly Custom Manufacturing  (, Sara Asp Olson wrote:

“One of the most notable successes in Donnelly’s TWI journey is in the area of Job Methods.

In the years since Donnelly implemented the Job Methods program, the company went from just a handful of employee suggestions in 2006 to 1,600 Job Methods Improvement ideas in 2009. What’s more, about 97 per cent of the submitted suggestions were adopted.”

Referencing Donnelly’s President Ron Kirscht and Director of Advanced Manufacturing Sam Wagner, Ms. Olson wrote “As suggestions and improvements continue to rise with each shift, Wagner and Kirscht notice the culture on the floor changing, even among those employees who have not yet completed Job Methods training.” Quoting Sam Wagner “‘It really struck me as a reminder of the power and the enthusiasm that people have for coming up with and implementing their ideas’.”

“ ‘Big improvement ideas – like buying a central drying system – competitors can do that’ says Kirscht. ‘But these little ideas that your employees come up with every day, those are the things your competitors can’t copy; and those are the things that give you a sustained, competitive advantage.’ “

The following story illustrates why it is so important to ask the people on the floor, and then LISTEN:

A toothpaste factory had a problem: they sometimes shipped empty boxes, without the tube inside.  This was due to the way the production line was set up, and people with experience in designing production lines will tell you how difficult it is to have everything happen with timing so precise that every single unit coming out of it is perfect 100% of the time.  Small variations in the environment (which can’t be controlled in a cost-effective fashion) mean you must have quality assurance checks smartly distributed across the line so that customers all the way down to the supermarket don’t get mad and buy another product instead.

Understanding how important that was, the CEO of the toothpaste factory got the top people in the company together and they decided to start a new project, in which they would hire an external engineering company to solve their empty boxes problem, as their engineering department was already too stretched to take on any extra effort. 

 The project followed the usual process: budget and project sponsor allocated, RFP, third-parties selected, and six months (and $8 million) later they had a fantastic solution — on time, on budget, high quality and everyone in the project had a great time.

They solved the problem by using high-tech precision scales that would sound a bell and flash lights whenever a toothpaste box would weigh less than it should.  The line would stop, and someone had to walk over and yank the defective box out of it, pressing another button when done to re-start the line.  

A while later, the CEO decides to have a look at the ROI of the project: amazing results!  No empty boxes ever shipped out of the factory after the scales were put in place.  Very few customer complaints, and they were gaining market share.  “That’s some money well spent!” – he said, before looking closely at the other statistics in the report. 

 It turns out, the number of defects picked up by the scales was zero after three weeks of production use.  It should have been picking up at least a dozen a day, so maybe there was something wrong with the report.  He filed a bug against it, and after some investigation, the engineers come back saying the report was actually correct.  The scales really weren’t picking up any defects, because all boxes that got to that point in the conveyor belt were good.

 Puzzled, the CEO travels down to the factory, and walks up to the part of the line where the precision scales were installed.   A few feet before the scale, there was a $20 desk fan, blowing the empty boxes out of the belt and into a bin. 

“Oh, that,” says one of the workers “one of the guys put it there ’cause he was tired of walking over every time the bell rang”.

People on the shop floor can frequently figure out the easiest way to get the job done, if they are supported and given the chance. Job Methods Improvement (JM) is a simple but powerful and time-tested vehicle to build an organization that doesn’t have to wait for Kaizen events to identify and implement improvements.

Capture “know-how” before it walks out the door

How valuable is the (JI) Job Instruction Breakdown in capturing employee skill and knowledge before your most skilled and experienced people, the ones  that actually make a process work, walk out the door when they retire or move on to other jobs?

The following true incident clearly demonstrates the value of having  JI Breakdowns for all jobs.

The most experienced operator on the complex chucking machines (Frenchie was his nickname) was about to retire after about 40 years on the job. This chucking operation was used to make internal configurations in the end of heavy walled tubes. The process record (work instructions) for this chucking operation was about 30 pages in length and included several tables listing different adjustments for each of several models and configurations of product. In a bit of a panic, knowing that Frenchie was about to retire, the Chief Supervisor of the area directed the department Foreman to spend all day of Frenchie’s last week on the job in the break room buying Frenchie all the coffee he could drink and writing down everything Frenchie knew about running the chucking operation.

Frenchie had a little brown notebook that he carried in his back pocket with his notes on how to adjust the machine or cutters, etc. in order to avoid or eliminate various problems on each product model. The 30 pages of information in the work instructions were variously incorrect or incomplete and did not contain any of the tricks that Frenchie had hit onto over the years. The Chief Supervisor knew that each day, during normal operation of the process, Frenchie would pull his oil-stained notebook from his back pocket during machine change overs or when looking to reduce runout, eliminate rings or whips, etc. in the complex internal geometry.

In the above case, at least the Chief Supervisor knew that the way that work was done (in order to avoid or correct problems) was different than what was written in the work instructions. This gave the company a chance, albeit a last minute chance, to capture the “one best way” before it walked out the door with Frenchie. How many cases exist in every company in which they don’t know how work is really done on critical jobs? They only find out that they don’t know when their real subject matter experts have left and their Quality, Cost, Production and/or Safety performance has fallen off the shelf.

When making a Job Instruction Breakdown, we work with the people who actually do the job, while they are doing the job. We identify and capture those tricks or knacks that have been learned through years of trial and error, so that others don’t have to go through more years of trial and error with resulting wastes of scrap, rework, delays, injuries, etc. Once we have a good Job Instruction Breakdown, we have the “one-best-way” to do a job in a simple, teachable format. This can then be used to get new operators to quickly have the skill and understanding required to do the job correctly, safely, and conscientiously.

Another TWI/JI success story:

This was part of one company’s experience when they first started to “do” JI. Their initial approach was to create 100+ Job Instruction Breakdowns (JIBs) to cover the 100+ different jaw sets to be inserted into their chucks. In thinking about all this work, they asked themselves if they really needed 100 JIBs …. Which led to the question “Why do we need 100 different sets of jaws …. Which led to this company standardizing their jaw sets (they now have 30 to cover the same workload) …. And they have 1 JIB which covers the insertion of any of the 30 jaw sets.

Indirectly, JI changed their whole way of thinking. They improved from both ends!

100 chuck jaw sets     –>     30 jaw sets                            1 JIB     <–     100 JIBs

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.

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.  


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