Job Instruction vs. Work Instructions - Part II

Several years ago, I posted an example of main differences between documentation methods used in Job Instruction and traditional Training programs. See: Job Instruction vs. Work Instructions

Over the years, I've continued to practice using Job Instruction and in doing so, I've been able to establish a basic, but adaptable, thinking pattern for myself that has proven to be quite useful. I used to think about What, How and Why as a matter of procedural thinking, but over time I have found that a better way to think is Why, How and What.

Why do I do this?

Asking yourself "why?" first helps you dig into the purpose of something. Asking yourself, "how will you do it?" - this gets to the heart of your effectiveness ad efficiency in testing your answer to "why?" And finally, asking "what is it we are doing?" - this helps describe and identify the tools and skills needed to implement the how and why. Make sense yet?

Here is why it makes sense to me:

Using a "traditional" work instruction blends all of the thinking together into one long document. Good work instructions do a good job of creating header information to help people walk through the structure, but people don't use header information to perform their jobs. What they really need to know is in the body of the document. In order to think critically, one has to be able to stratify and sort things out in their mind; this is hard to do by processing several pages of writing and photos. The extension of a work instruction is a reference book, in fact, many benefits claimed by proponents of work instructions is that they serve as a reference and even can be used to, "train somebody off the street." Any engineer that has a Machinery's Handbook or Mark's Standard on their reference bookshelf uses them for just that, as a reference. But a reference is not an effective training aid. And this is why Job Breakdown Sheets are superior to Work Instructions. Short, concise, clearly organized training aids that if used with the four step instruction method - nearly guarantee great results.

Here is how you can begin to use Job Instruction and Job Breakdown Sheets:

If you are in an organization that "already has a training program", you may face an uphill, endless battle trying to replace work instructions with job breakdown sheets. Here is a different approach for you to consider, use JI to solve problems that involve people - after all, that is the intent of the program! When you face a problem, break down the process using a JBS. It will begin to help you see problems in the process and will help you standardize the current state. You may also find that the team will begin to see the advantages of using JI over their current training standards.

Here is what you are doing with this approach:

By using JI in this manner, you will find that your improvement efforts will be more likely to succeed when involving other people in an organic, grassroots manner. This is a different philosophy than rolling out TWI to everybody in the organization only for it to meet a wall of resistance and resentment.

Mark Warren and I will be presenting more about this at the TWI Summit in Savannah, GA this May. Use TWI Blog code "LUND" at get 10% off at registration!

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