I was asked by a client recently ‘what do you know about Training Within Industry (TWI)?’ Some of their other divisions had implemented TWI, and they were wondering if it could help them, but didn’t quite understand what TWI was all about. I had to admit at the time that I wasn't an expert on TWI, but… what I’ve learned since has me excited about what Rosie the riveter can teach today’s modern, high tech manufacturers.
TWI 101TWI was introduced during WWII to help American manufacturers meet increased production demands for the war. Manufacturers were faced with the challenge of dramatically increasing production at a time when many of their employees were being conscripted, and new employees without previous factory experience (i.e. Rosie) were entering the workforce. It was apparent that the shortage of trained and skilled personnel at precisely the time they were needed most presented an obstacle to manufacturers, and that only improved methods of job training would address the shortfall.
The focus of TWI is training supervisors (TWI defines a supervisor as anyone who directs the work of others) to more effectively train the people working for them.
TWI consists of three main training modules, all of which follow a process similar to Deming’s PDCA:
- Job Instruction (JI) – Trains supervisors to more effectively train workers to do a job correctly, consistently, and safely. JI gets inexperienced workers up to speed faster.
- Job Methods (JM) – Trains supervisors how to improve work processes to improve quality and productivity.
- Job Relations (JR) – Trains supervisors to prevent problems and deal with them when they do come up. JR teaches supervisors to deal with workers effectively and fairly, emphasizing the lesson, "People Must Be Treated As Individuals".
Did it work?
TWI has been cited as a major factor in helping America win WWII. By the end of WWII, over 1.6 million workers in over 16,500 plants had received training. In one study of 600 manufacturers from 1941 – 1945:
- Production increased an average of 86%
- Training time was reduced by 50%
- Labor hours reduced by 88%
- Scrap reduced by 55%
- Grievances reduced by 50%
What happened to TWI?In spite of proven success, TWI was seen as a war effort, and was largely forgotten in the US when the war ended. American industry faced little serious competition after the war. With no competition, few saw the need to continue to improve. Also, after the war, the "old" workforce, returning from War, moved back to their previous jobs, without any idea of the "new culture", while most of the TWI trained people went back to their previous lives; this caused TWI culture to "fade away" almost instantaneously.
However, TWI was introduced in Japan during reconstruction, and became the foundation of the Toyota Production System and what we call Lean today.
- Job Instruction became the basis for sustaining Standardized Work, and is taught within Toyota virtually unchanged to this day. JI is considered fundamental within Toyota, critical to all other training.
- Job Methods laid the foundation for Kaizen, Quick Changeover (SMED), and Standardized Work
- Job Relations became the basis for much of the more practical aspects of Lean Culture.
Why should I care?
Well, if you’re cynical, complacent, or otherwise looking for an excuse not to move your company forward, you shouldn’t. But, if you’re frustrated trying to find and keep good, qualified employees even in this ‘down’ economy, read on.
If you accept the success TWI had when it was first introduced; if you acknowledge the success Toyota and other ‘Lean’ companies have had and recognize that much of it evolved from TWI; if you’ve tried Lean but wish there was a more American version, you might want to check out TWI.
Personally, I’ve never been a fan of ‘training programs’. I’ve seen too much training done for the sake of training, and prefer ‘learning while doing’. That being said, I find the straightforward, results oriented methods used in TWI to be very effective, and believe the purpose and methods of TWI are just as relevant to unleashing the potential of today’s manufacturers as they were ‘back in the day’.