The TWI Blog for the Training Within Industry Community of Practice

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.


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?



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!

A trainer’s dilemma

Have you ever thought: Is there some way to make TWI JI better, faster, more up to date with technology?

Here is a trainer with a dilemma and Patrick Graupp’s  response.  


The program I am working on today requires to train hundreds of people worldwide on new processes and software. I would like take the advantage of the TWI methodology to boost the speed and the quality of the training that is a bottle neck for us regarding the available resources.

I do not know if it has been tried before but for learning software could you effectively follow the 4-step method in a classroom environment (no more than 10 people)?

Step 1 – the instructor performs a general presentation:

–          Explain the objective

–          Ask each person within the group what they know

–          U shape room is used to ensure everyone can see the software on a screen

Step 2 – Instructor presents the software

–          Go through each important step on the screen

–          Do it again stressing Key Points

–          Do it again stating reasons for Key Points

Step 3 – Try out performance with each person in the group

–          Each person within the group would do the job – correcting each error

–          Each person would explain each important step

–          Each person would explain each Key point as they do it again

–          Each person would explain each reason for Key points as they do it again

Step 4 – Follow up

–          Put the group on their own by giving them 2 or three exercises to do. Instructor remains in classroom but only helps when help is needed

–          Encourage questions

 I realize it is somewhat of a compromise but it does have some advantages like having heard and seen the learning process many more times than one on one instruction. Please let us know your thoughts and experience.

 Patrick said:

TWI is a very good tool for teaching software routines. Since there are so many functions available, it is always confusing to learn to do specific things using software. So when we “break it down” and give specific instructions, we can isolate the tasks and ensure a correct performance. Be careful with the breakdowns: the Important Steps should be large segments and not too detailed (e.g. “Log in,” “Open file,” “Select correct customer,” “Input data,” etc.). Then the Key Points can be shortcuts or techniques, but only those points where things go wrong. You do NOT need to instruct them on things they know from their experience like “hit enter key.” A good example of a Key Point might be the best “path” to get to a certain screen like “Format -> Options -> Files -> Customers.”

 So, about the instruction of large groups of people, your suggestions can work if they are done thoughtfully and with care but keep in mind that, at some point, it will actually be FASTER to teach them one at a time. If it takes 30 minutes, say, to teach the job you could get 10 people trained in less than a day without having to go through all the logistics of setting up the classes. This is the most effective way because each person can have the training adjusted to their level of experience and knowledge. Any time you get away from the ideal method, the quality of the training effort goes down. Of course, this is a big effort—see Chapter 9 of the Implementing TWI book where they set up individual training for 467 nurses and nurses assistants.

 Having said that, there is always a place for classroom training. TWI does not change that. Especially with software applications where you are not teaching “on the line” where machines are moving and product is in motion, you can sit people down in a class and go through the instruction where everyone can see (on a big screen) and you can pace the instruction to the needs of the group.

 Actually, going over your suggestions I thought of yet a third option you can consider:

 Step 1 and Step 2 are done with a group of 10 people in a training room setting

–          In Step 1, go around the room and quiz each person on their backgrounds one at a time. Use this information to get the whole group “interested in learning the job” making sure you don’t leave anybody behind. Different people have different motivations.

–          In Step 2, adjust the presentation to the “lowest level” of experience/skill in the group. The more advance people will have to be patient, but you don’t want to leave anyone behind by going too fast or too complicated.

Step 3 and Step 4 are done individually at their own work stations  

–          Disperse the group and have the trainer visit them at their desks/work stations one at a time and confirm that they can do the job and remember all the Important Steps, Key Points and reasons

–          Here, tell them the Step 4 items, pointing out when you will come back to check on them. Remember, this is the follow-up which means that the trainer then must go back and check up on the people one by one. In other words, you don’t just tell them you are coming back but actually go back and make sure they are using the method.

 There is indeed a lot of work to do proper training. But the goal is to have each person be able to perform the job correctly and following the standard. When you bring a group of people together and try to teach it at one time, you cannot assure that each and every person “gets it” so one-on-one attentions is critical. That’s why when we train more “supervisors” (trainers) how to do the method in the 10-hour class, you can have more coverage for this one-on-one effort.

What do you think?

Steve G


Are  you are a certified trainer who sometimes asks: What do the numerical ratings mean on those evaluation forms?

 Richard Abercrombie has delivered hundreds of classes and has seen a pattern emerge on those feedback scores.  He says: 

 “Anything from 8-10 is a ‘promoter’.  This person will speak favorably about Job Instruction to others and will be willing to recommend it.  For you as the trainer, and for company management, there is no serious concern here.  But they still need follow-up and encouragement.

 A score of 6 or 7;  I consider to be a person who is “not sure.”  Something is bothering them.  If management has selected these participants because they expect them to use the method, this is a concern.  Management needs to follow-up with the group and see if they can get them to talk about what lingering concerns there are.  It’s hard to know why they think that way without getting them to express their feelings and opinions.   

A score of 5 or below is a BIG concern for management because that person is a ‘detractor’.  They will be willing to actively discourage others.  In this case, Management must be very active in follow-up with the specific individuals if they know who.  

 While you’re doing your follow-up you can try to get a feel for those that are still ‘not sure’.  Your coaching will probably convert them to 8-10.”

Thanks Richard! 

 What do you think?  Do you agree? Let us know – leave us a comment.

 Steve Grossman


   Our friend and colleague Kathy Lee at AIT shared an article recently posted on her company intranet.  

AIT implemented Training Within Industry (TWI) in 2009 to help improve technical training and employee relations. The goal wasn’t to save money but to improve how employees are trained. One year later, though, AIT has realized a savings of more than $260,000 through the implementation of TWI.

What is TWI?
After an assessment of company training procedures in 2008, AIT recognized the need to standardize training in order to ensure all employees – current and incoming – receive the same information and knowledge regarding their positions. To improve these procedures, Training Coordinator Kathy Lee partnered with Purdue University’s Technical Assistance Program/Manufacturing Extension Partnership to implement TWI in July 2009.

“TWI offers a way to standardize training and teaches why we do everything, not just how,” said Lee. “It puts quality into our training, and it goes hand in hand with the initiatives Quality Services already has underway. It’s a resolution for issues we’ve experienced in the past.”

Reduction in Errors, Cost
Since that first training class in 2009, TWI has helped reduce errors in the lab, decrease sample failures, and save the company more than $260,000. Here is an overview of initial results realized from TWI:

  • The most severe level of data entry error was reduced by 40 percent
  • Individual sample failures decreased by 68 percent with a savings of more than $38,000
  • Training time reduced from six months to two months (66 percent) for research and development training with hybridized application
  • At least five employees previously struggling with their performance are now in good standing as a result of TWI Job Relations training
  • For an initial investment of $35,000, TWI has a return in excess of $260,000 to date

Currently, TWI is only used in AIT’s production laboratory, but Lee said there are plans to bring the program to Business Operations in the future. “When this happens, we will see even more efficiency in technical skills and employee relations, which will translate into even more dollars saved,” said Lee.

For more on AIT Labs –  

Kathy added in her email to us:

The Training Specialist concept is working very well and I am fortunate to be working with a group of individuals who are as passionate about training as I am.  I have recently been moved back into the Quality Services portion of our organization in a newly formed group called Quality Operations – Documentation, Training and Records – and am currently focused on developing a Training Management System (TMS) for the company.  I still maintain the status of TWI Coordinator but am focusing my energies on the TMS project for the near future.

The TWI Summit was last week (May 17-18).  This year it was held at the Disney Boardwalk Hotel Conference Center.  Even though the location was entertaining the conference was all business. From the pre-conference workshops to the final J classes on Friday everyone was engaged and all the scheduled events went off without a hitch.  Kudos to  Lean Frontiers’ Jim Huntzinger, Dwayne Butcher, Linn Asbury and Sharon Brown for their outstanding work.

I enjoyed the keynotes: Norman Bodek and the “Be Like Coach” guys: Swen Nater and Mark Siwik.  They were  entertaining and instructive. I bought Norman’s book, Kaikaku, also entertaining and instructive.

 TWI implementors have discovered the importance of management support and skill development after the initial training, so, coaching and follow-up was a sub-theme this year.  For example, Monday, the    “TWI Job Instruction Follow Up Course” was sold out.   Patrick Graupp and Richard Abercrombie presented a valuable workshop on delivering a TWI-Job Instruction Follow-up course.   

On Tuesday TWI Institute’s own Bob Wrona and Patrick Graupp presented a double breakout session on the concepts in their new book, Implementing TWI: Creating A Skills Based Culture.   Following that, I sat on a panel with Bob Wrona and Maureen Conway in which we had a lively discussion on:  “Getting Management On Board”.  It was a very interactive session with an enthusiastic and knowledgeable group.  Tuesday afternoon our friend Martha Purrier from the Virginia Mason Medical Center provided her engaging healthcare perspective in her breakout session on “Achieving Reliability with Job Instruction”. 

Wednesday, I had the privilege of co-presenting on the “Power of Coaching…” with Milica Kovacevic , Packaging Coordinator at Patheon Inc.  She presented an outstanding overview of their implementation effort at Patheon in the Packaging Division.   She described how important the return visit by Richard Abercrombie, to follow-up and coach staff, was in their JI implementation.  She described how their management support for JI was structured, including managements’ role as coaches.  Earlier in the day I was able to sit in the presentation on the implementation of TWI at LEGO. The presenters from LEGO, Gitte Jakobsen and John Vellema  came all the  way from Denmark to share and learn.

Finally, I facilitated the post conference “J” classes. This year we had three JI classes and sold out JR, JS and JM classes.  Special thanks for a job well done to the trainers:  Richard Abercrombie, Mike Braml, Glen Chwala, Patrick Graupp, Richard Jackson and, Paul Johnson.      

Those are my highlights. If you were there, tell me yours and we’ll post them.  If you weren’t able to attend this year – watch for the “save the date” for next year.  We hope to see you there!

 Steve Grossman, Director

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