9.23.2007

What is Training Within Industry?

This first post will give you some historical perspective on Training Within Industry, TWI. A WWII program initiated to meet the needs of wartime production, TWI was run by industries best "dollar-a-year" men, led by Channing Dooley of Standard Oil. Mr. Dooley was the director of TWI during the wartime period upon which the program was credited in training over two million industry supervisors in basic continuous improvement skills: how to teach, how to improve methods and how to lead people.

The skill of "how to teach" was embodied in the Job Instruction Training sessions, or JIT, not to be confused with Just-In-Time. This session provided supervisors with a solid, well founded skill of training people in workplace tasks. The thought was that industry must train quickly, correctly for the sake of the war. The supervisor on the front lines of industry, so it goes, was thought to be the best person to deliver the conscientious training needed to get much needed goods into the hands of our soldiers.
The skill of "how to improve" methods was taught through the "Job Methods Training" sessions. JMT gave supervisors a way to make improvements, however small, to the work being done in our war production plants. The thought here is that any elimination of waste in our methods, "must be made NOW, in order to make the best use of people, machines and materials." The result of introducing JMT into production plants was that savings were reported back to TWI HQ, which closely resembles the modern day kaizen teian proposal system currently employed by companies such as Toyota Motor Co.

The skill of "how to lead people" was taught through "Job Relations Training" or, JRT sessions. This skill helped supervisors lead people through ever changing, fast and furious times during the war production period. Not only did people need to ramp up for war production, but many of them were learning how to weld, rivet, assemble, and supervise for the first time in their lives! These critical periods of adjustment required strong front line leadership by supervisors.

The J sessions were delivered in war production plants by TWI personnel. The sessions were comprised of five, two-hour days for a couple of reasons:

  1. Minimal disruption to production needs
  2. Provided reflection periods between sessions
  3. Provided time for participants to work on their real world problems using the skills learned in the sessions

Two other programs existed" JRT for Unions and Program Development. Program Development was targeted at managers in a company, usually a training coordinator. Each of the five programs had a "master trainer" sessions that was forty hours in total. This would be similar to what we call a "train-the-trainer" session today.

Parallels to today:

When we think about lean manufacturing, we think tools. It is easy to think of the TWI-J programs as tools also, and in a general sense they are. But there is something special about them that I feel sets them apart from the "mainstream" lean tools. For one, it is difficult to imagine that people think about a specific tool, for example, SMED (single minute exchange of dies) in their everyday work. The exceptions may be mechanics, or tooling engineers in this example. With JMT however, the tool encourages a person to think about their job in it's simplest elements. This is a skill that everyone can learn, practice and master over time. The thinking behind the J programs was that if, "each and every person in the plant" were to use the skills set forth by TWI, much of our production problems today could be solved. This is in stark contrast to the hope that the few mechanics we teach the "skill of SMED" will use it on a daily basis. This to me seems to be a major sticking point when discussing sustainment of Lean initiatives.

To verify this line of thinking we only need to look towards Toyota. Please note that it is 60 years after TWI was introduced to Japanese industry in the post war era. They are still using JI in its WWII format to this day in 2007. This is sustainment. This is what is taught in the skills of how to teach, how to improve and how to lead.

To learn more about TWI go to http://www.trainingwithinindustry.net/

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