TWI in Japan - Roots of Kaizen - Day 2 in the Archives

Well, researching the roots of kaizen and continuous improvement has proven to be an interesting experience. Yesterday I had indicated that I hadn’t yet found anything regarding who brought TWI to Japan in 1951, presumably the first time JIT had been introduced to post war Japan. Day 2 in the Western Reserve Historical Society Library revealed the following today:

Today I found numerous sources confirming that Mellen’s staff had indeed been the pioneers of TWI in Japan:

“In 1951, he [Mellen] and his co-workers spent nine months there [Japan]. When they left, Japan had 30 training directors capable of heading regular training institutes. Since then, still partly under Mellon’s direction, those 30 have trained 4000 instructors from the fishing, mining, banking, and manufacturing and other industries. Those 4000 have since trained 400,000 foremen, in turn each have taught perhaps 10 or 15 men and women in their departments.”
Source: Newspaper Clipping. Wellman,Bertha. Clevander Trains Trainers to Train Trainers. March 12, 1956.

Mellen and company took the three J modules to new heights: the combination of the three modules into one. This approach was embodied in the Problem Solving Training program, brought to Japan by Mellen and colleagues in his second contract with the Japanese government in 1956. The program took hold and became foundational to the management training offered through JITA. A follow up letter four years later confirms this:

from Japan Industrial Training Association. August 2, 1960. Title of Letter: “Status of ‘Problem Solving Training Program’ in Japan”. Some statistics reported in this follow-up letter:

- 15 PST institutes conducted between 1957-1960
- 207 trainers qualified in these institutes
- 9000 trainees receiving PST from these trainers
- Management remarks: “It seems to the management to be a dynamic training course consolidating three basic courses of T.W.I. and a valid tool to shoot down production problems.”

Japanese Letters of Appreciation for Study Tours conducted by TWI, Inc. There were dozens of tours organized by TWI, Inc., for the Japanese. The two tours that prove interesting to continuous improvement folks like me were the “material handling” and “metal stamping” tours. Both reports emphasize the concern by the visitors that mass production approach, although stunning and impressive to the Japanese, would be difficult to adopt in Japan due to the relative scale of the their market. [my emphasis added] One visitor expressed his prophetic vision of how to deal with the unique nature of their country’s scarce resources and slow growing markets: through the adoption of “specialized training” of their managers, foremen and supervisors in order to achieve what mass production can through automation – specifically “continuous flow”!

16mm film. “The knack of Managing Small Enterprise.” The wonderful people at the library are looking into finding equipment so I can view this on Friday. I can’t wait!

One more box to go! Will have more for you tomorrow!


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