National Foremen's Institute

Does anyone know whatever happened to the National Foremen's Institute? Perhaps it is obsolete? Perhaps it has changed name over the past half century?

Any ideas?

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Is TWI Relevant Today? Part 2

Mark Warren, of Tesla2, Inc. has spent way too many days in what we call the TWI Candy Store: The National Archives. Mark has continued where I left off a year ago, and he has found all kinds of TWI gems: if you are regular readers of the blog, you may find the JI Cards in Japanese as probably some of the most interesting.

Mark also found an insightful letter written by C.R. Dooley, four years after the TWI Service was decommissioned. Dooley and his horsemen started the TWI Foundation, sort of what we would call a private consortium by today's standards. You can find the letter at the TWI Service Links page.

It seems appropriate then, that with all of these ties to history, we ask some hard questions about TWI. In a previous post, I asked if TWI is relevant today. Recently, over at the ASTD website, I had a couple of T&D professionals say that when it comes to the "old" program of JIT, we TWI people need to "get up to speed"!

So, on my list, there is another criticism I'd like to share with you:

"The JI technique is limited to predetermined phases of instruction; the trainee cannot contribute to the training delivery process."

What is your take on this? A fair assessment based on your experience? Should the trainee contribute to the training delivery process? If so, why?



TWI Follow-Up to Five Needs of Every Person

Friend of the TWI Blog, Sean Jordan of Grasp the Situation, LLC. poses the following thoughts as a follow up to the discussion on the "Five Needs of Every Supervisor." Post on 9/2/08.

Sean writes:

"I have been thinking a lot about the 5 needs. I remember a presentation Jim Womack gave to the 2004 Lean Service Summit in Amsterdam and he discussed several points about the perfect process and people. Two things that I consider from his presentation that are critical are:

1) People need a sense of providing a valuable good or service; and

2) People need a sense of personal fulfillment & accomplishment.

I often think about how this relates to the 5 needs. My initial reaction is that these points are a natural outcome of properly addressing the 5 needs and proper problem solving. Similar to 5S and the often silent 6S - Safety. Safety is a natural outcomeof proper 5S for most places. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts as well as the rest the peer expert group.
Thanks Sean. This is a great point that I think can serve as a lesson to many managers. We say we want to change the culture. So what do we do? We go out and tell everyone that "today, we are changing the culture." Often, by doing the simple, non-sexy, fundamental things, we actually get what we want.

Anybody else want to weigh in on this?

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Toyota: Philosophy Hurts Productivity and Profits

Toyota exec says that North American metal stamping operations are lagging. There is a lot of talk about quick changeover, etc., but ultimately the problem comes down to adopting a certain philosophy about manufacturing and then adapting that mindset within the workplace.

Not to say I told you so, but well...this is what a lot of Lean practitioners struggle with on an ongoing basis. Getting top management to understand that the real problem behind change is LITERALLY bound within a few maxims:

1) We have been sold a lemon in our management education system.

2) Modern management theory is based on a philosophy that is 100 years old. Incidentally, pull systems were described in great detail 93 years ago, in a fantastic book titled, Installing Efficiency Methods. You can find it in my Google library at the TWI Service website.

3) Resentment of criticism and resistance to change. How can 100 years of American business be wrong? Plus, we all shelled out a ton of dough for that MBA. I'm not about to buck the system now!

Here is the link to the full story.

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Is TWI Relevant Today?

At first I thought I would write a rebuttal article on a collection of criticisms taken over the past few years regarding Job Instruction training methods. Then I thought..."no, that would be the worst article ever."

Rather than make you cry, let’s see if you can make the critics cry uncle!

I have a list. Today’s criticism of Job Instruction is:

“There exists a risk of mechanical (i.e., unconscious) training without comprehension.”

Agree or disagree? Your thoughts on this? Any experience you would like to share on this matter?

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Training Within Industry - Five Needs of Every Person

This past week, a fellow TWI zealot, Mark Warren is at the National Archives digging through the original materials. Here is a snippet from our group dialogue based on one of Mark's finds:

Jeff Maling writes: “Many of us have felt the TWI "5 Needs" piece is somewhat ineffective, although we all still do use it. It just doesn't always resonate with people. No disagreements, just silence. We noticed that Toyota's version is 5 Needs of a Leader. This is my preference. I'd say really any employee. Mark came across a TWI Foundation (after war) bulletin from 1946 that uses, in my opinion, better words than the original.

I kinda like the term Five Fields of Need. I think we can refit the Knowledge of Responsibilities and Work into something much more meaningful. This is a step in the right direction. Please think of better ways to get across this message in current terms. Bryan, care to blog on the subject?


Thanks for this nugget Jeff. I agree, that there are some reasons behind the five needs that aren’t obvious. Sometimes we need to go back to the original intent of the program to pull out those key points.

Recall that Job Instruction was delivered to over 16,000 manufacturing plants during the war and over 1.7 million people. What do you suppose the most common response was to TWI J-courses in many of these plants?

“We are different, that won’t work here!”

The five needs were introduced first to the group of supervisors for this reason: “We Are Different” syndrome (WAD) is a perception. However, TWI faced a big problem in selling their patterned plan to what is undeniably different between 16,000 organizations: 1) technical processes and 2) policies of a company. TWI refers to these as "knowledge needs."

These differences, coupled with our experiences create a perception that what works for one company won’t work for another. This is true in one sense and we are foolish to deny this. A battery manufacturer will have a hard time adopting and adapting to the company policies and technology of a semi conductor manufacturer.

So, for any leader, these two needs are required for success and can only be supplied by the organization itself. As a TWI trainer, you should make a point of stating this and that TWI isn’t aimed at working out policy or technical process problems in the sessions (although it can if used by a manager on the policies she created). In stating this clearly, you may avoid those gripe sessions that are inevitable when your group begins to talk about standardization, training and other management topics, otherwise known as excuses. The conversation can go south on you quickly if you don’t nip this in the bud early. By stating the knowledge needs first you can effectively “take away” the WAD syndrome excuse.

Q. “O.k., Bryan, I don’t have 16,000 plants. I don't even have 2 plants. Why do I need to cover this at all? Nobody responds to this when I work this out on the board during the session? Why even bother?"

A. You may find that this is not appropriate for your local plant. However, what if you did not state this clearly in the beginning?

You would then only focus on the three skill needs. The three skill needs – JI, JM, JR are universal and can be applied anywhere. In other words, these skills are not limited to use in one plant, or is proprietary information. The three J-skills can be applied anywhere. The focus then, by tying these needs to the needs of a supervisor, leader, or any good employee, is to get the participant to focus on how to apply the J-skills to their job.

However, the J-skills cannot stand alone. Behind the Job Breakdown sheet is the technology, the process and safety policy protocols. Behind the Job Methods analysis are the questions regarding staffing levels and customer demand levels. Behind the Job Relations program are the absenteeism policies, the plant culture and etiquette, the approach to HR policies. These cannot be ignored. By drawing the line in the sand, we also implicitly state that we cannot have the knowledge needs without the skill needs, or vice versa. You are also in a way saying that you are not an expert in battery manufacturing, coffee roasting, or painting bicycles, or whatever it is the people in the session do. But you can help them help themselves.

This brings us to some TWI dogma regarding delivery. There are some questions on whether or not you should just read the manual and get on with it, or, use your experience to shed some light on the materials and bring some context into the world of your participants. I opt for the latter. Some trainers out there will simply state the five needs and move on. I’ve done this and you do get yawns and blank stares. This is fine to do; you will still get some results as you move through the sessions. But others will expand on it a bit more, deviating from the manual in the way that I just did. Or did I?

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