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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At September 3, 2008 at 5:02 AM , Blogger Rajinder Singh said...

I and my organization have been conducting the 3 J programs in India and Middle East fro last couple of years. I find that one of the best take-off points for any of these programs is the discussion on the five needs of a supervisor. We normally start the discussion by asking the participants about what does the supervisor need in order to do his / her job effectively. We find that invariably one of the skills is missed out. Training Skills is the most often missed. This gives an opportunity to engage the participants and stress the importance of the program within the frame work of their overall role and responsibilities. I have always treated this section as a valuable part of the program. Handled properly it can energise the participants rather than bore them.

Rajinder Singh

At September 3, 2008 at 5:11 AM , Blogger Unknown said...


Thanks for posting on the TWI blog. Your learning point is on the mark and is often a discussion point in the sessions. Often one of the conclusions offered by participants is that orgnaizational communication would be superb if we all possessed these skills.

Where did you learn about TWI?

At September 3, 2008 at 9:01 AM , Blogger Rajinder Singh said...


Initial learning to us was from some of the Japanese Sensei’s who visited Indian organizations to help develop the auto component industry, we learned the 4 step method but not in the TWI manner. Our first exposure to TWI was through "Gemba Kaizen" book by Masaki Immai, when we realized the origin of these programs. Don's book came along as a valuable guide and we fine tuned our skills of delivering the programs through learning’s from all of you who are putting in commendable hard work in this area and teaching innumerable number of people in developing skill and talent through your writings and posts. TWI manuals on the net were very helpful. I also attended the TWI summit at Florida in May and hope to be there in 2009.

With regards
Rajinder Singh

At September 3, 2008 at 11:30 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, the 5 needs are important to stress to all participants. They are the pillars for building a strong leadership infrastructure. It is so critical to communicate the reasoning and intent so that minds can be opened and perspectives improved.

I remember a company that promoted a creative and intelligent technician to supervisor, only to return him months later to the production floor. The problem: his leadership team did not recognize how to support the improvement of the employee's 5 needs. The employee also did not ask for help because he didn't know the 5 needs.

I don't mind if someone sees a real problem with the content of the TWI manuals. As long as they perform a PDCA cycle and pilot it out. Does changing some text really solve a problem? Style preferences may not be real problems. Jeff, I prefer 5 needs of an employee. But it still needs the proper presentation or the participants won't get it. Cheers!

At September 3, 2008 at 2:03 PM , Blogger Jim Huntzinger said...

While I agree that the review of the 5 Needs seems to often leave folks yawning, I have found in the past that while the participants seem to glaze over it, when quizzed about it they simply understand (it makes sense to them) that responsibilities and knowledge is indigenous to the company or plant. They do not get excited because they are thinking, “that makes sense, I buy that!” And as Rajinder points out – it is the other three – the skills – that they really have to stop and think about, and quite frequently miss. Also, as Jeff stresses it is the three skills which folks discover quickly that are of benefit to them. These skills are actionable needs – activities they physically engage in – which is why most people respond to them well.

At September 3, 2008 at 10:26 PM , Blogger Rajinder Singh said...

One of the points that comes up frequently during the discussion on Five needs is the “Skill of solving Problems” the basic skill of “Why? Why? Analysis” that most of the organizations insist on their supervisors to develop. This doesn’t seem to fit-in in any of the five needs. We try to handle it by saying that it is part of the “Skill of Improving Methods” etc but I have noticed it invariably leaves a little un-satisfaction in the minds of the participants.
Any comments…

At September 4, 2008 at 6:11 AM , Blogger Norm Nopper said...

In stating the Supervisor’s Five Needs, the TWI course developers were distinguishing between company/industry specific context and universally applicable content. Anybody who has taught in industry knows that learners often confuse these two, usually with the plea: “That won’t work here; we’re different.”

The content of the TWI J programs, Instructing, Improving Methods and Leading appear (or should appear) in any supervisor’s job description – regardless of whether we supervise operations in a steel mill, bakery, auto repair shop or hospital. The J programs are relevant to anyone who carries the title – or the responsibilities – of a supervisor, and these are skills that can be readily taught.

The “knowledge” areas acknowledge the unique circumstances of each industry and company. We develop a knowledge of the work through technical or apprenticeship training, followed by experience. We develop knowledge of responsibilities through the company orientation, by becoming familiar with the company documentation regarding policies, procedures and job descriptions, and through the years as we remain with the company.

It’s the nature of adult learners that they want to immediately apply new skills and concepts to their problems, issues and concerns – i.e., to their context. And if they don’t immediately see the applicability, the gut reaction is to reject it.

In other words, adult learners tend to listen and JUDGE at the same time. The introductory message of the TWI course designers to participants is clear: JUST LISTEN and ABSORB the content of this training; then evaluate, judge and apply to your context afterward. And it appears that to get this message across, the TWI course designers developed these five SELF EVIDENT needs of the supervisor, to which the reaction would have been – with a yawn – “but of course”.

Norm Nopper

At September 4, 2008 at 10:58 AM , Blogger Unknown said...

I think this is a tough question to answer here in comments...but I think I would handle it in similar fashion.

5Y is just one simple way to begin working out a problem. It isn't a problem solving method in and of itself. Combine it with the other skills, instruction, maintaining good relations, etc. and now you have a good foundation for building up your problem solving skills.

Incidentally, I think this was a problem for TWI. One way this was addressed was through the creation of a Problem Solving Training program. This was the version sent to Japan after the war.

You can see what this is built upon at the following link:


At August 22, 2016 at 2:04 AM , Blogger navya said...

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