What is TWI (Training Within Industry) and what impact has it had on the United States?
The Training Within Industry Service was a federal US government agency that was created in 1940 with the express objective of increasing the productivity of all defense contractors. It was extremely successful and is the only federal agency to be given an award by industry. Many statistics can be cited, but here are a few from the 1940’s:
- 1940 1% aircraft workforce were women
- 1944 65% aircraft workforce were women (Rosie the Riveter)
- 1939 aircraft production 5,856
- 1944 aircraft production 96,318
- 1944 Liberty ship assembled in 8 days
- 1942 man-hours to build a ship 1.2 million hours
- 1944 man-hours to build a ship 500,000 hours
- 1940 B-24 Bomber (4 engine) build one per day
- 1944 B-24 Bomber (4 engine) build one per hour
- Garment manufacturing – training reduced from 3 months to 1 ½ days while output increases from 15% to 70%
- Processing coffee beans – scrap reduced from 4% to <1.5% while machine uptime increased from 62% to 77%
- Micro-electronics – had 1125 operators & technicians in January; added 300 by June
- Micro-electronics – increased production from 1300-1400 wafers per day to 2000 wafers per day; cost of spare parts reduced 30%; machine downtime reduced 20%
There are many similarities between contemporary life and that of the 1940’s. Both time periods used the TWI Programs in non-production organizations such as hospitals, 4-H Clubs (in the 1940’s) and basketball teams (in 2015). Until peoples’ behaviors change radically, the TWI Programs will always be relevant. A main reason for this is that the three “J” Programs address three basic human needs, which are described in Deci and Ryan’s “Self-Determination Theory (refer to www.self-determinationtheory.org). According to self-determination theory, the three basic needs are competence, autonomy and relatedness. Once someone understands the “J” Programs, they can readily see that Job Instruction Training addresses competence, Job Methods Training addresses autonomy and Job Relations Training addresses relatedness. Therefore, although these programs were designed over seventy years ago, they are still relevant today and the fact that they have not made a larger impact on society is mainly because people do not know about them or really understand them.
What is the connection between TWI and the Toyota Production System?
The TWI Service of the U.S. Government was notified in May 1945 that they would be closing in September of that year. Because it was so influential and widespread, its influence did not immediately stop and evidence of it can be seen in the USA up until about 1970. It was taken around the world, however, and was used by the government of the United Kingdom until the mid 1980’s and by New Zealand’s government until the mid 1990’s. However, the country that seems to have made the most consecutive use of the TWI “J” Programs is Japan. In 1945, General Douglas McArthur was given the mission of rebuilding Japan as a democratic state. At that time, Japan had the same problem that the USA did in 1939 – too many unskilled workers. General McArthur’s staff knew what the TWI programs could do and so they hired TWI Inc. to train the Japanese how to use them. TWI Inc. was an independent consulting firm composed of some of the members of the previous government TWI Service.
After over six months, several Japanese trainers had been developed by TWI Inc. and the Ministry of Labor then was assigned to administer them (including Program Development). Any company that needed help with training was referred to the TWI Programs. As a result, many Japanese companies such as Sanyo, Mitsubishi, and Toyota began using them. The person who told me about TWI was a Sanyo TWI Trainer in the USA from about 1980 to about 2000. Toyota started using TWI in about 1950 and evidence of it can still be seen today. The most obvious evidence is its use of breaking down a job using Steps, Key Points and Reasons. Other less obvious signs are the use of a questioning attitude since their use of “5 Whys” came from Job Methods Training and respect for the individual came from Job Relations Training. This has been documented in at least two papers. They are Training, Continuous Improvement and Human Relations – The U.S. TWI Programs and the Japanese Management Style; Robinson, Alan G.; Schroeder, Dean M; California Management Review; Winter 1993; 35, 2; ABI/INFORM Global and The Roots of Lean – Training Within Industry: The Origin of Japanese Management and Kaizen; Jim Huntzinger; Jim@LeanFrontiers.com; May 2007.
Since Toyota has been using the TWI Programs for over 65 years, many people in the organization, even senior management, do not know that the TWI Programs are a foundational aspect of Toyota’s culture. Lean Production Thinking (Lean) seeks to emulate the Toyota Production System (TPS) and people still find that difficult to do. Copying tools such as 5S and Value Stream Mapping help to some extent, but they never really duplicate the TPS. The secret to TPS’s success is how Toyota personnel think and how they think is based in a large part on how they are trained. How they are trained is based on the TWI Programs. TWI is one factor that led to Toyota’s success and it is the reason it is being re-introduced to other companies
Please give us an overview of the TWI programs and the skills that they develop in business leaders.
There are three TWI “J” Programs: Job Instruction, Job Methods, and Job Relations.
Job Instruction teaches how to transfer one’s knowledge about whatever they do. It includes analyzing the job and then delivering it in a fashion that allows each individual to understand and remember the material as quickly as the person’s abilities allow. The analysis that is used for instruction consists of a concept called “Key Points,” which are actions that affect quality, safety, productivity or cost. When a Key Point is missed, one of these factors can be affected. Thus, Key Points represent where a person can make a mistake in a job. By knowing the Key Points of a job, each person is vividly aware of what should be done to do the job correctly. When a mistake does occur, it is easier to find it, correct it and work to prevent it from reoccurring.
Everyone has ideas but everyone does not know how to vet, sell and implement their own idea, which is what JMT teaches. We are born with a questioning attitude (talk to any 5-year-old) but somehow, we often lose it. Once we do question, we often do not know how to quantify our findings and turn them into a convincing argument. Using the job Methods Program not only improves productivity by implementing many ideas, but it also empowers people, which brings out the best in them.
Many people are technically competent, but they do not know how to deal with personnel. Job Relations Training teaches how to create and maintain strong, positive personal relationships that are required in any successful organization. Creating and maintaining personal relationships is a skill that anyone can learn, although it does take some discipline. The Job Relations Program also teaches the best way to deal with personnel situations when they do occur and it stresses to address problems as soon as they are apparent when they are easiest to deal with.
The above skills are practiced by anyone who uses these programs, but as they use the programs they also develop other skills. For example, as people question more, their skill in communication improves. As communication improves, people work together better and teamwork improves. As a result, morale will improve.
How should business leaders get started with learning about TWI and how do can they sell others on the benefits of TWI?
People can learn more about TWI from the books already referenced, from searching on the internet, and by attending the annual TWI conference (TWISummit.com). Selling others is somewhat more difficult. The best way is to first find out what that individual wants to improve and determine if any of the TWI “J” Programs can address the situation. In most cases, one of the three programs will alleviate the problem because using them covers everything from quality through continual improvement to personnel difficulties. One must keep in mind that these programs are intended to solve problems. Thus, to gain the greatest effect, one must identify and quantify a problem before a program is used.
What are typical obstacles that companies face during TWI implementation and how do leaders overcome them?
The programs are deceptively simple, but they do require some discipline and effort to make them successful. If senior management is not fully behind them, offering a sponsorship as a minimum, they will slowly fade away. Many people are also deceived into thinking that they are easy to implement because they are so simple. As a result, they often underestimate the time it takes for full implementation. However, all three programs will change the way many people think about their jobs and how they operate. A change in thinking such as this requires time to achieve and each person will progress at a different rate. Used properly, each program will improve any organization.