The TWI Blog for the Training Within Industry Community of Practice

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

We recently received the following question.

I have started a pilot of TWI- Job Instruction at one of our facilities. I don’t recall reviewing how to instruct using the 4-step method when there is variation. What I have is a JIT assembly line that builds driver control modules for various suppliers. Our line builds match the supplier build, so the assemblies vary from one to another. For example, the assembly in the station is for a hydraulic braking system and the next 3 assemblies entering that same station may be for a pneumatic braking system, and within those 3 pneumatic assemblies, there may be 2 different configurations. Since this is an assembly line, the necessary tools to complete the assembly can’t easily be taken to a controlled environment and taught. Do you have any insight or advice on how to handle training to the 4-step method without completely disrupting production? Will it fall under the same category as a long operation were the instructor does 1 type of system and configuration at a time until the operator has learned? If that is the case, how do we handle it when types and configurations are rare or sporadic?

Senior Master Trainer Patrick Graupp responded:

Thanks for your question and it sounds like you’re really in the thick of things with your JI training. Keep up the great work!   Your question is quite relevant because good instruction using JI is the critical factor here if you want to keep up with the high demands of JIT and other Lean initiatives just as you have described. It’s what will keep your company competitive.   You answered your own question when you sensed that this is the same kind of problem as instructing a long operation, where you have to teach it one element or unit at a time. Remember, we should never give the learner “more information than they can handle at one time” so teaching them one job at a time is the way to go.

 In order to teach at the line, you will have to have an experienced operator at the station who can handle the different variations that come down the line, even as you teach the new operator these tasks one by one. Teach the most common operation first since they will have ample opportunity to practice; the veteran can deal with the other jobs that come down the line at the same time. When you teach the operator the most common task, all the other variations are just that, “variations” on this basic task. So pick the most basic jobs to teach first and build on those skills. Once the new person has learned the most common operation, you can begin teaching the variations one by one and this part of the learning will be much faster because they have learned the basics.   Once the new operator starts to handle a larger share of the assemblies coming down the line, the veteran operator can move on to other tasks in the area coming back to the station only for those “rare or sporadic” pieces when they show up. Eventually, the new operator will be able to take over all the tasks.

 Think about it—we cannot learn “everything” all at once. But if we have an intensive instruction method like JI, we can compress this learning time without sacrificing quality and productivity. But there has to be a transition period for the new person to get up the learning curve. They cannot just jump into a line and do it all at once. The “sink or swim” approach is not acceptable and invites disaster.

AME’s Target: Read It

If you are not a member of AME, you should be, if only to get the Target Magazine.   I read the first issue of Target for 2011 with greater interest than usual because this issue contained a number of articles and features of special meaning to us at the TWI Institute. The first  was an article about Currier Plastics’ disciplined approach to lean accounting.  We are very familiar with Currier and I read with great interest as our friend Alan Gross, VP of Operations said: “We are continuing to work on gaining maturity in this area [Realignment of Resources] and on cross training all manufacturing personnel to enable this. To that end, we use the TWI (Training Within Industry) JI (Job Instruction) process to establish and perfect standard work.”   

We have worked over a number of years with Alan and the folks at Currier Plastics and are happy to see them get the recognition they so richly deserve.     

As I continued reading I came to the interview by Lea Tonkin with another friend, Sherrie Ford, multifaceted Chairperson of the Board and VP of Culture at Power Partners Inc.  When asked what “lesson learned” she can share about leadership and cultural change she said: “Through all the changes and challenges we have continued to work on lean.   We have also kept our link with the union strong. We have chartered teams – teams that stay in place for at least one year – in communications, wellness, charities, sustainability, behavior based quality.   We have launched Training Within Industry, plant-wide, in a way that every employee will understand the process and the value of standard work.” 

We’ve appreciated the opportunity to be a part of their great progress in such a relatively short period of time.    

Then, I got to the “Resources” section where Glenn Marshall writes about his picks for the best books on developing and sustaining standard work with an emphasis on – you guessed it – TWI.  In the article Glenn thanks our Executive Director Robert Wrona for his assistance. Finally, on the last page, I see Doc Hall’s review of Patrick Graupp and Robert Wrona’s new book (Implementing TWI) .  I’ll let you read the review or better yet the book.  Needless to say; Doc liked it. 

 So, you can see why, on the eve of the second decade of the TWI Institute, I was so gratified to read, in this issue of Target Magazine, the many references about how TWI contributes to success in organizations.          

Steven Grossman, Director

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 Institute Certified Trainers continue to ask excellent questions. Here is one on elevating JR up the ladder in an organization to maintain support at the C level.  Richard Abercrombie was asked this question a few days ago. 

Hi Rich,

 TWI has been a source of discussion and since I returned from the training back in September and I have been working hard to promote Job Relations. JI supports work standardisation and fits in well with business requirements  as there seem to be an immediate and obvious performance change. Everyone seems to be interested in this! I advise people that in order to support the possible changes to culture of using JI and work towards sustaining the change, Job Relations should be taught first, as advised by the TWI institute. As any soft skill, this is more difficult to measure a tangible change and I’m finding it difficult to get people to buy into this.  I’m really eager to continue with the JR training and would appreciate some advice on how I can promote it to work alongside JI and ensure that people recognise its value as much as JI and JM. Your advice would be greatly appreciated.

Diolch yn fawr (Thank you very much),


 Hi, Elin,

It’s nice to hear from you.  You ask a very good question and are not the only person I’ve heard this from.  There are many like you who see the advantages and benefits of JR, how it links into not only the other “J” programs but many other things that are important to the company, only to have management show interest but then they don’t “get it.”  Here are a couple of things to consider:

  • If your management doesn’t see a problem that will be reduced or solved by JR, they won’t put it into an action plan.  So, one approach is to help them to see the problem.  In other words, instead of talking about how wonderful JR is, bring out the issues that represent barriers or threats to objectives that are already given priority by management.  For example, if JI is being used to establish standard work and improve quality but people are struggling with the degree of collaboration and teamwork necessary to agree on and support the standards, then management is not going to see the intended outcomes of standard work.  Continuing with my example, if you can show the evidence of this problem using examples of conflicts and disagreements, head-butting and brick walls, delays to progress, slowdowns to production, etc. then your management will likely be interested in what should be done.  At this point, JR can be offered as a specific and concrete countermeasure to these barriers.
  • Another approach is to identify someone in management who agrees with you about the potential of JR and is willing to promote or champion the idea.  Or perhaps you can find a supervisor who wants to use JR in their area of responsibility and they don’t have to ask permission.

 I hope this stimulates your thinking because you may need to get creative.  It may take a while to turn the course of the ship.

Best Regards,

 Rich Abercrombie

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.

Jeff Kidner asked:

 I completed my 12th JI course last week which took place in our Edinburgh plant so I am officially training nationally now!   I am currently running a course here at Llantarnam and a question has been raised which I would like your advice on.

 The breakdowns we have prepared so far are to enable a person to quickly remember to do a job correctly, safely and conscientiously-when all is well and running. Where you have corrective actions to take when something goes wrong with the operation or machinery used for that operation-would these be covered with a separate troubleshooting breakdown or included in the breakdown for the job being taught as important steps?

Thinking about it some of these failure modes would be captured by identifying them as key points by making or breaking the job, but probably not all of the potential failure modes.


Pat Graupp answered:  

This is a great question which I haven’t gotten before. I’m copying my colleague Richard Abercrombie because he is a Lean consultant and does a lot of work like what you’re referring to. I’m sure he has more insight on this than I do.

For my part, I think you can have both: (1) a breakdown which teaches how to troubleshoot and the procedure for finding what has gone wrong, and then (2) the UPDATED breakdown of the job which needs to be RETAUGHT to include the information (Key Points) for what we learned when resolving the problem. Correcting the problem, so it doesn’t happen again, means that we have found the root cause of the problem and added countermeasures (in this case retraining) to prevent it reoccurrence.

Richard Abercrombien answered:

 The two points Pat makes are very useful.  As a problem solving reference, failure modes and the appropriate responses can be formatted as a breakdown.  Of course, the challenges is touched on by Pat’s second point; is there a countermeasure that will control or eliminate the root cause so the “trouble shooting” isn’t necessary? 

Having said that, here is what we did at a steel plant I worked at once, and you may find this example helpful.  

In a rolling mill, delays are a key performance indicator.  The operation runs 24/7 so delays drop capacity and yield, and since the furnace keeps going, costs per unit of yield go up, too.  Keeping the rolling mill running smoothly is a daily objective.  But sometimes things go wrong.  We were working a lot on improving work processes to eliminate causes of delay as much as possible.

But what do you do when a delay occurs?  Some operators were better at it than others.  So they selected the best operator and asked him to explain how he kept everything coordinated so the mill could be started quickly after the delay was resolved.  After he wrote it down it seemed a little confusing.  So I put it into a breakdown to make it more understandable.  (To see the breakdown email Steve at )  


Jeff Kidner is a Continuous Improvement Facilitator and TWI Institute JI Certified Trainer at Burton Foods in the UK.

JR: How do you coach it ?

TWI JR Certified Trainer, Laura Lee Rose, at Missouri Enterprise asked:

 “What coaching can be provided to clients who participate in Job Relations training? We have built in time to assist class participants with Job Instruction and Job Methods, but I'm always at a loss to understand what additional coaching can be provided in Job Relations. Can you help me with this?”

TWI Institute Senior Master Trainer Patrick Graupp responded:

 “JR development is an ongoing, evolving process. Whereas with JI and JM you actively go out and “select” appropriate jobs to train and to improve, in JR you would not go out and “create a problem” in order to solve it. Yet, as we all know, there are always problems out there with people. The skill is to catch them in their early stages, before the general population recognizes something as “a problem,” and take action early when there are many “possible actions” still available to properly resolve it in a way that gets us to our objectives.

 In this setting, it is hard to systematically “coach” people on JR because problems will come up ad hoc and, unless there is a revolution going on in the workplace or a pervasive case of poor morale, it’s difficult to go out and assign problems to coach on.

The best case of follow-up work I have heard is a company that had their JR graduates get together once a week for a short meeting where one (or maybe two) people in the group would  volunteer to give their experiences using JR during that week. The trainer would go through the same process we use in the 10-hour class of outlining the problem on the board and examining the use of the JR 4-Step Method, letting other members participate just like in the class. They did this for several weeks, maybe a few months, until the group felt that they had mastered the use of the JR method and made it a regular part of their supervisory work.

TWI Institute Master Trainer Richard Abercrombie responded:

“ I agree with Pat that it’s a little awkward to say “Let’s go out on the shop floor and see if we can find a people problem,” whereas it’s much more likely to find a need for instruction or a need for improvement.

The best way to work through a question about how to coach is to think about what are the objectives of the coaching and what’s the best way to get those outcomes.  Of course, for all of the TWI programs, the purpose of coaching is to find out where additional teaching, training or practice is required so that the supervisor actually develops the skill and doesn’t stop at the knowledge level.  The other purpose is to stimulate continuing use.

Having a guided discussion about the various aspects of JR is an excellent way to probe for the person’s understanding of the JR method and, in particular, their understanding of the preventive emphasis.  The process of the 10-hour delivery is an excellent format for doing this since it covers the 4 Steps and Foundations.  But there are many other points of discussion that can be brought out such as how to get opinions and feelings, was the objective the correct objective, what was the real cause of the problem and were the actions directed at those causes, etc.

But keep this in mind.  As a trainer coming in from the outside, your best target for coaching is “the boss.”  In other words, whoever has the responsibility to get Job Relations used and to make it part of the regular routine of supervisors’ or team leaders’ daily job is the person that needs coaching on how to do that.  This also applies to JI and JM, too.  It’s only through the day-to-day interaction and coaching between levels of management in the line organization that TWI will become sustainable.

So if you organize, for example, a follow up coaching session like the example Pat describes, talk to “the boss” ahead of time about your plan, in the group meeting handle a volunteer’s problem yourself (model the process) and then have “the boss” handle a problem.  During or afterwards you can give feedback about the coaching process.

And don’t forget the coaching opportunity with staff relationships.  For example, is HR learning to coach supervisors and managers in how to work through their people problems using the foundations and method?”

 Do you have any ideas for Laura Lee?   If you do; post a comment or let us know.

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

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.

Tag Cloud