Job Breakdown Sheet vs. Work Instruction

Some 14 year old punk slashed a lot of tires in our neighborhood last weekend. My loss is your gain: I wrote a breakdown sheet: how to change a car tire.

This made me think about a comment that "darrint" made on a recent post, We Already Have A Training Program?: "You make an interesting ping about badly done docs describing job functions. Can you show a before and after sample to illustrate?"

First, let's look at a typical work instruction (text only, insert your own pictures):

The purpose of this document is to provide the trainee with necessary information to be able to safely and successfully change a tire. The company procedure requires that the trainee read this document first. Once that task is complete, please sign your training curriculum that attests that you have read and fully understand this document. Also, please review the document with your trainer and ask any questions about the task. Please sign off on the training curriculum that you have reviewed this document with the trainer. Also ask the trainer to sign off that he/she reviewed this document with you. Also please be sure that your direct supervisor signs off on the training curriculum attesting that you have read the document, reviewed the document with your trainer and reviewed your review with the supervisor.

Work environment: When changing a tire, the trainee should understand her environment and ensure that it is safe and set up for work. Pull your car as far as possible off the road so that you are safe from passing traffic. Also ensure that your jack points are on a flat, level and hard surface. This won’t always be the case, as you may breakdown on a dirt road where flat surfaces may be available, but hard surfaces can be tough to find depending on the season. In this scenario, you will need to search in the fore or aft position of the vehicle for a large stone and roll the vehicle to the stone so the jack point is over the stone. Another possibility is to keep a short 2x4 section of wood lumber in your car if you travel back roads often. Also, shut the vehicle off.
Tools required: You will need a spare tire properly inflated to manufacturer’s specifications. Please see document #12345 for details. A car jack is required as well along with a proper extension depending on the jack type. Most vehicles have a scissor style jack which requires a pipe extension that is used to turn the scissor jack. A tire iron with the proper lug nut size is required as well. It is also a good idea to have a road flare or fluorescent safety triangle in your road safety kit.

Preparation – Pull the vehicle to the side of the road, as far as safely possible. Position the vehicle over a hard, level and flat surface. Turn off the car and remove the keys from the ignition. Open the driver’s side door and exit the vehicle. Go to the back of the vehicle and open the trunk. Empty the trunk contents and lift up the trunk carpet to determine if the tire is in the trunk well or not. Remove the wing nut over the center of the spare tire and remove the jack, tire iron and spare tire. If the spare tire and tools are not in the trunk well, replace the carpet and trunk contents, close the trunk lid and check under the vehicle for the spare tire and tool kit. Refer to the removal procedure above. Note: some vehicles have the spare tire under the vehicle and the tool kit is in a side panel of the trunk. An example of this is in a minivan. Once the tire and tools are removed, place the items next to the flat tire.

Procedure - Loosen the lug nuts on the flat tire, but do not remove them. Warning: it is very important that you only “break” the threads on the lug nuts, which means that you only get them to be out of their “torqued” position. Place the jack under the marked jack point according to the owner’s manual. Attach the extension bar to the jack and lift the vehicle until the tire comes off the ground. Now, using the tire iron, remove all lug nuts. Place the lug nuts off to the side. Be sure that you don’t get the threads full of debris, such as dirt. Remove the flat tire and place on the ground. Pick up the spare tire and place on the hub with the convex side of the wheel facing you. Place the lug nuts on the threads. While using the tire iron, tighten the lug nuts using a star pattern. Tighten them as tight as you can without allowing the tire to turn, always following the star pattern. Lower the vehicle by reversing the pattern used to raise the jack. Once the tire is supporting the weight of the vehicle, give the lug nuts one final torque. Place the tools and flat tire into your vehicle. Walk to the driver’s side of the vehicle and enter. Start the vehicle and drive to the nearest service station. While driving, listen for abnormal vibration coming from the spare tire. Do not exceed the rated speed limit molded into the sidewall of the spare tire. Once you have arrived at the service station, have the attendant replace the flat tire or, if replacement is not an option, have the attendant double check the torque on the lug nuts. This will ensure safe travel for the rest of your journey.

I attest that I have read and fully understand the contents of this document _____________________
I have reviewed this document with my trainer ____________________
I have reviewed this document with the trainee ____________________
I attest that the trainee has read and understands this document, and has completed the review of said document with his/her trainer. ________________________
Whew! If you made it this far, congratulations. Let's look at a Job Breakdown Sheet:

All breakdown sheets have some brief header information:

Task: Changing a tire

Tools Req’d: Tire iron, spare tire, car jack, 1 foot section of 2 x 4 wood lumber, owners manual

Common Key Points: Pull car over as far off road as possible for safety; pull over onto flat, level and hard surface; Engage EMERGENCY brake; use lumber as wood base on dirt roads.

Now, we get to the instruction:

At first glance, the differences are obvious: detail and length. The detail is interesting to note here. In the Work Instruction, we read everything there is to know about changing tires, even going so far as to assume the job won't be done correctly, so we dream up a "what-if" scenario where we must go to the garage everytime to double check our work: information that has nothing to do with changing a tire. This is one reason why work instructions are much more detailed and tend to be longer than necessary: we want to tell people everything we know about the job. However, the important differences are what you don't see.
#1- Purpose - My experience is that Work Instructions are used so a number of objectives may be achieved. A) Training time is reduced by eliminating the need for intensive training time. B) trainees are able to be more directly involved with training by reading and referencing the WI. C) Understanding, compliance and accountability are built into the training by requiring a chain of approvals.
The problems with WI do not lie with the objectives themselves - these are fine on the surface. It is how we achieve these objectives - with current state of WI training - that is the real problem. First, the purpose of reducing training time can be achieved with work instructions. People are brought in on time, they read the document, trainer's review, supervisors approve and the cycle is closed. This efficiency begs a follow-up question: how effective was the training using the WI? Is there a better way?
Another problem is the reading and referencing of WI. Reading WI are often completed, but how many people will understand and retain what they are reading? Do we really expect them to remember all of the information that is contained in the ream of paperwork we throw at them? When we think of this in our own workplace, can we say that current training programs treat people in a respectful way?
What is the purpose of having a chain of approvals using the WI training program described above? Often, signatures justify the use of a stick during disciplinary matters.
Purpose of a Job Breakdown Sheet is distinctly different and clear. The primary purpose of a JBS is to serve as a trainer's aid. It is not meant to be read by the trainee. It can be, but that isn't the primary purpose. This turns our current training program on its head, doesn't it? This is why Job Instruction is NOT a training or standard work documentation program. The four step instruction method MUST go hand-in-hand with the Job Breakdown Sheet in order to be effective. Now accountability is shifted to the trainer, where it should be. "If the person hasn't learned, the instructor hasn't taught." Now, the training time is similar, but often shorter than our old systems. And most importantly, the effectiveness is often 100%. How can I make this claim? Because, if the trainer adheres to the four step method, he can't leave the trainee until "he knows that the trainee knows" the job as well as the trainer.
Finally, there is a psychological element between the two documents. How many of you actually read the entire work instruction? If you did, congratulations, you have an eye for detail. If not, why should we expect trainers and trainees alike to use the documents?
Especially in the light of a four step instruction method, WI are rendered useless. Two things happen when the four step method is combined with long, multi page WI. First, the trainer abandons the WI and "wings it". Even though she may be using the four step method, she is lacking the information that she may forget, the QCDS information that ties individual tasks to business objectives. The opposite could happen as well. The trainer may be obligated to use the WI. Will she use the four step method? It is unlikely, as following a WI in an orderly format is near impossible.
The Job Breakdown Sheet helps a trainer clearly organize the job in her mind and facilitates a structured 4 step method for an efficient and effective training experience.

See Part 2 of Job Breakdown Sheets vs. Work Instructions - HERE...

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At April 21, 2009 at 12:30 PM , Blogger darrint said...

Thanks! I felt a little silly when I later found you do have posted examples with t-shirt folding and tying a knot.

This is a better example than those and I appreciate the before and after.

At April 21, 2009 at 5:18 PM , Blogger Bryan said...

Your welcome darrint,

I hope to post as many examples as possible, but you will forgive me as many of the best examples I encounter are proprietary information and can't readily share. So, we will need to settle for everyday items for now.

At April 26, 2009 at 9:10 PM , Anonymous Richard said...

Your example of a WI and contrasting poor example is interesting. It reminds me of information mapping (infomap.com) and the typical comparison examples provided on their web site. Information mapping requires tables, but there are a variety of choices for tables depending on the type of task, process, etc. Given a choice between a document like the WI tire changing example and a similar one (if available) of a document using information mapping, I'd go for the latter. On the other hand, I suspect (just having stumbled on this blog and TWI in general), the the WI doc is specifically for use with training. A job aid (term I use in my classes for such tools) can be used either as a "with training" aid or may be a "stand alone" type of document. Your WI looks very cool as a training related job aid. However, it is hardly a good example of a procedure which might be in a manual, in my opinion. (Obviously the "poor" example should never be in a manual in the format you used either. It is a bit of a straw man.)

I have subscribed to your site and look forward to learning more here.

At April 27, 2009 at 8:04 AM , Blogger Bryan said...

Hi Richard,

I admittedly didn't do a very good job of writing up the "information map" of changing a tire. My main point in writing it that way is that it is often information overload and as a result, more or less useless to both trainer and trainee. Combine that with the pressure to produce, and often these documents (well written manuals included) are thrown aside.

You are 110% correct: the primary purpose of a JBS is a trainer's aid. It is NOT a stand alone document, or a job aid for that matter. However, I have seen them used as a job aid by well trained people. It is NOT meant to be a detailed procedure.

Great comments and thanks for the feedback!


At December 31, 2009 at 11:38 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the Healthcare field, detailed step by step procedures are used to train new employees, as well as to keep employees up to date or in synch with current procedures. How do you differentiate between a written procedure in the healthcare industry and a JBS? We are asked to make JBS on all our current procedures. Are JBS just for industries that have wordy, confusing work instructions? If we already have industry standard procedures that outline purpose, step by step procedure, equipment, supplies, references, etc, what would you do in a JBS?


At January 1, 2010 at 3:04 PM , Blogger Bryan said...

Hi Sally,

This is a good question. I haven't seen a modern healthcare procedure as of late, so it will be difficult for me to compare.

I must say that I am instantly suspect of the following mandate: "Make JBS' on all our current procedures." The question I have here is, why? What problems do you expect to solve through better training with Job Instruction?

If you already have industry standard procedures that outline purpose, step by step procedure, equipment, supplies, references, etc. then why use a JBS?

There is a distinction to make here...perhaps this will help. Job Instruction is NOT a JBS, but JBS is one part of Job Instruction. The detailed procedures that most people use are difficult to use as a part of Job Instruction.

What is the other part of Job Instruction I am referring to? The 4 step method of instruction. The JBS is a constant reminder of adhering to the 4 step method of instruction.

So to answer your question: "what would you do in a JBS?" One part of the answer is that the JBS may make your instruction more effective.

The other part of the answer is that the act of writing a breakdown sheet builds up the skill of direct observation, the ability to see problems, and you will probably develop some solutions along the way.


At September 23, 2011 at 9:13 AM , Blogger Didierdrogba said...


I read this post 2 times. It is very useful.

Pls try to keep posting.

Let me show other source that may be good for community.

Source: Job training methods

Best regards

At May 23, 2012 at 8:13 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Brian,

One of the best article I have read so far on this topic. I specially love the reasoning behind the examples(Be careful maybe I will be the next punk in your street:) ) I would be really intrested to see your example with the standard work as an expansion, specially with an assumption it is high mix, low volume environment. I can imagine work instruction would be like part-number, modelcode specific (special tires, special tire pressure, special colours, differnt dimensions) until JBS and Standard Work could be higher level overview (summerizing common charcteristic and having reference at different treatment)so you do not make people read through for all the specific work instruction, reducing training time with JBS.
I have been struggeling to implement Standard work in the low volume production environment.
The level of varriance is challanging me, what should be combined, what should be detailed and in which documentum. How can I deal with controling documents?, ect

Your article helped me.


At August 17, 2015 at 9:01 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great article! My question is the JBS is for one person or position. What about a procedure involving more than one person. How a bout a JBS for multiple positions?

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