TWI Blog - 2009 Year in Review

Following are the top ten most viewed blogposts for 2009. Interesting…50% of them are from 2007 and 2008!? Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone and God Bless!

Job Breakdown Sheet Vs. Work Instruction

Genba, Genbutsu, Genjitsu in Plain English

Life After Death by Powerpoint

Lean Jargon Part II - Muda, Muri, Mura

Lean Jargon Part III - Gemba, Genba?

Job Breakdown Sheet Example

5S, Poka Yoke and Visual Controls

Lean Manufacturing Book Review - Managing to Learn by John Shook

How to Compress a Truckload of Digital Photos in 60 Seconds - JBS Example

Obama's Lean Government?

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Leaning Out Africa

A great, short article by Jim Huntzinger in Lean Accounting News about the universal nature of people and waste. Most intriguing though, are the hints that Jim throws around at other things we do not like to talk about as professionals; as Leansters, we should.

I'm talking about the devestating effects of government, coupled with a lack of religious values, on nations, states, communities, organizations, families and finally - the individual. Why should we talk about these things? Because government policy and religious values can shape how we behave - the presence or lack of these two may often be at the root cause of our actions and decisions we make.

What are some examples of poor decisions or actions in your organization? Can you share any examples with TWI Blog readers - any problems that may be caused by government policy or lack of religious values?

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Standardization, Simplicity and Supervisors

In response to my post, "Message to Gov't: What the...?", Anonymous said:

"For JI you are correct that Toyota does not use much "high" technology but when I toured the place w/ Mike Hoseus I saw a little training area where each work station had a laptop w/ a video and work instructions in place to teach basic skills like using an air gun. I understand they have 3000 such videos standardized across the organization. Technology has its place but should be used with wisdom."

Well said, Anonymous, could not agree with you more.

And where did that wisdom come from? What you describe in that workstation is the result of an evolution of standardization and improvement spanning decades within Toyota. In contemplating the possible side effects of having 3000 standardized training videos in a typically large western organization, the possible downsides are countless. Why? Because many jobs are not standardized to begin with. Yet, for some reason, we try this standardized training approach without first considering if standardization and stability exist in the first place.

Why doesn't standardization exist? Your airgun example is a good one. In some organizations, the choice of tools is up to the person doing the job. So, what purpose would a video serve in this situation? More problems would arise out of the use of the video of an unaccepted standard. Angst, grumbling, distrust, contempt, safety, etc., would result from the passive aggressive (sometimes just aggressive) behavior people have towards those imposing standards on them. The same problems would appear if we were talking about materials, machines and methods.

Many organizations have engineers and supervisors who will make the decision about standardization. A common problem here is that these people do not understand the job to begin with, so their choices regarding stability and standardization are faulty, compounding the problem above.

So let's assume the management expressed their desire to have stability in the process through standardization of tools, materials, machines, methods, etc. Who will carry out these wishes? Ultimately, the people closest to the job know it best, but the good practices they create must be shared with others. A supervisor is in the best position to facilitate this effort. Together, they can decide what is best today, and standardize it. And the determinations they make must be done with purpose: What problems (QCDS) are solved through standardization? We gain stability.

But does your supervisor have the capability to do so? This is what the three J-skills aim to provide. A simple way to get at the problem of standardization.

Assuming some level of standardization is gained, what is next? The supervisor needs to check results. Why? Because standardization has an enemy - chaos. Its like matter and anti-matter. Oil and water. Superman and Bizarro-World Superman. Any effort to create order is eventually countered by disorder - the workplace and process degrade over time - for an infinite number of reasons. Basic natural laws exist in the workplace as well - if anyone can put their finger on this formula - well - congratulations, you are a genius!

The only way to counter chaos in the workplace is to throw oneself into the improvement cycle - ultimately, it is the only way. And if you have non-standardized methods, tools, and workplace practices - JI is a great place to start - DON'T start with videos of non-standardized things.

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The Correct Way is the Safe Way

In a 1949 report to the ILO, TWI Foundation director, Channing Dooley provides explanation of the benefits of Job Instruction. This is a good follow up to my previous post about the Job Safety manual, which was derived from the Job Instruction manual. But specifically, Mr. Dooley details precisely what JI instructors and practitioners realize when breaking down jobs:

“This process could be rapidly and very economically applied to the development of such special operating programs as safety for three reasons. First, it would tend to make every supervisor safety minded, because he himself becomes a safety instructor. When the supervisor is responsible for safety it is difficult for him to pass all the responsibility to a staff safety man.”

There is a lot of talk about accountability of creating and upholding standards. The question we must ask then is this: do we just “empower” others with accountability – “you are hereby accountable!” or do we give people the skills to be accountable so that it is difficult for them to pass the buck?

“Second, the very process of breaking down a job, and requiring each worker to do it the correct way as a part of good job instruction, promotes safety because in most cases the correct way to do a job is the safe way…”

When breaking down jobs where people interact with machines, it is inevitable that you will uncover safety key points. It is also likely that you will find that the correct way to do the job conflicts with the use of tools, methods and policies. For example, safety knives are commonly used to prevent lacerations in the workplace. But inexplicably, lacerations still exist. One reason for this is that the safety knife may not be useful in all applications and people will bypass the safety policy or guards on the knife. This may result in a laceration because the person may not know the correct cutting method (cut away from your body). Many accidents can be avoided by teaching correct methods, rather than relying on contraptions that can be overcome and defeated. Another example is lifting devices. Is it cumbersome, timely or difficult to use a lifting device? Perhaps correct training will prevent workers from avoiding lifting aids and devices and resorting to manhandling heavy objects.

“Third, it directs the safety approach to the needs of each particular industry or shop operation, and not just to safety per se. Better results will be obtained by training safety directors who specialize in particular industries rather than to give all safety directors complete well-rounded courses in safety engineering. A safety director is more valuable to his organization as an instructor – salesman, if you please – of safe practices to supervisors than as merely a source of professional knowledge.”

Here is a way, as directors and managers, to follow up on our practices and methods of instruction to determine if people are utilized and effective. Take our lifting device or knife method for example. A safety director can use Job Instruction skills and guidelines to follow up with supervisors in order to evaluate the methods, tools, and materials used in production that contribute to safe or dangerous practices. This approach can lead to improvement at the macro and micro level. Having a specialty in OSHA compliance is useful, but many violations and trouble can be avoided by simply being familiar with the industry itself and specific operations that one is employed to improve. This familiarity is easily found by breaking down jobs and teaching the 4 step method using Job Instruction.

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Canadian War Production and Job Safety Manual

After being trained by the U.S. TWI Service during WWII, the Canadian Ministry of Labour adapted Job Instruction to the narrow field of safety, yielding an impressive J-skill program to the TWI world - simply called Job Safety. You can download a copy of the Canadian manual here or go to the Job Safety page at TWI Service.

Canada is a small country, but quite resourceful. This link will load a PDF with a quick fact sheet on the Canadian contribution to the WWII production effort.

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Message to Gov't: What the...?

Simplicity not in Gov'ts Vocabulary

As TWI blog readers have probably gathered, I’m a pretty simple guy. The J-skills are oozing with simplicity, so I naturally gravitate in their direction. Give me Job Relations any day and keep your fancy systems; good ole’ fashion common sense usually does the trick. Job Instruction is so much more effective than a video, webcast, presentation or anything else I’ve seen. Ask Toyota, they haven’t changed JI for many decades and it seems to be working for them in building stability in the workplace. Yet, I see over and over again, managers yielding to the onslaught of “the newest technology” or tool that is being peddled in their direction.

So, imagine many Americans disbelief, dismay and finally, bewilderment at a major breach of security that occurred two evenings ago. Apparently a TSA manual was posted online as part of a contract solicitation:


The problem is that although secure sections of the manual were redacted electronically, the redacted graphics were soon removed by hackers, bloggers or somebody with more time on their hands then you and I.

What was redacted? Oh you know, small, incidental details like: security features (and photos) of government ids, who is exempt from screening, list of countries for profiling foreign nationals, you know - little things. How could this have been prevented? Well, lets start with a simple $1.39 Black Sharpie from Staples. But that would have been: well, simple. What's that, you say? 'This is the government of the United States, the most advanced country in the world? We have to do better than a sharpie?' Oh I'm sorry, I didn't know that...our government, comprised of the greatest leaders on earth have to do this right. In short, we need to use T-E-C-H-N-O-L-O-G-Y.

And in the face of a problem...what is the most logical thing to do: lie. "The agency said the posted manual, dated May 2008, was outdated and was never implemented. Six more recent versions have been issued since that one, a TSA official said."

So, the government was using an outdated manual from six versions past to solicit contractors in current work? I'm sure there is a very logical reason for this. Are you feeling secure yet?

How much time and money was spent on solicitation? Screening contractors? Hiring? Training? How much money was spent on the redaction software? How many people were required to redact this 93 page manual using the latest-and-greatest-I-can't-believe-everybody-isn't-using-this-21st-century-sophisticated-software? How much time was spent proofing the redacted document and how much blind faith was put in the technology? Was it field tested?

Yes kids, technology brings about all sorts of innovations and productivity to the world! And don't worry, the government is creating jobs! Things like id recalls, more contracting, more solicitation, re-contracting and re-solicitation because of new manual revisions, increased airport screenings, longer wait times, reissue of ids, repairing foreign diplomatic relations.....YES, America's youth! There is a job waiting for you in the government, right now! Come and share in the wonders and pleasure of transferring the wealth of your neighbors to a government that creates no wealth!

Mark Warren and I have spent hundreds of hours (maybe thousands, Mark?) going through thousands of pages of TWI materials in the past few years. Dear Homeland Security, I would have charged you only $20,000 to sit down with a sharpie and redact the manual. That would probably have been a savings of hundreds of thousands of dollars for me and my fellow taxpaying citizens. Give me a call, we can talk about the wonderful things we can do with office supplies.

What is the cost of security now? People wonder why anything associated with the government costs more in the long run. Here is a great example. Governors wonders why the governed holds them in low regard when stupid things like this happen. Hmm. Maybe they don't wonder at all.

Hey, here is a great idea...let's trust these yoyo's to manage my kids' health care!

Judge and Blame

Naturally, the media and officials are looking for “underlings” to hang.


Haven't you heard? The government is getting smarter, lean and mean!

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