Do You Need The TWI Programs?

The answer to that question is yes.  The real question, however, is: "Are you using the TWI principles now?"  The TWI Programs contain fundamental skills that everyone should be using on a daily basis. Some people learn some of these principles through experience, while others never never practice them.  It does not matter by what name they are called as long as the principles (skills) are used.  When these fundamental skills are described, many people say that they are indeed using them.  The test of whether or not they are is reflected in the culture of their organization.  The following is a list of what the TWI Programs will accomplish in an organization.  If these activities occur in your organization, you do not need the TWI Programs because you are already using its principles. If, however, you find that you are not doing some or all of the following, you should start using the appropriate TWI Programs.

1- Standard Work - Many companies (especially larger ones) have standard work (SW) procedures, but what is usually not admitted publicly is that most front line employees do not follow these standards.  This is not an indictment of the people, rather the system is at fault.  The most basic definition of SW is that everybody who does a given job does it the same way every time it is done.  This is important for many reasons.  Simply put, SW allows us to predict almost everything about what we do.  Unless we can predict the outcome of a job, we will not be able to manage and/or improve it.  Some companies who are otherwise very Lean, do not perform according to their standards, which leads to variations, which leads to waste.  Job Instruction Training can lead to SW.  The only way to get to SW is through standard training and JIT is standard training.

2- Training - Many companies invest a significant amount of time and money into training, yet they find that quality, productivity, safety, and costs are not what they should be.  They do not understand why an operator would make a mistake or not meet production times after s/he has been trained.  The truth is that they have not been trained properly.  Proper training results in a person being able to match productivity with an experienced operator. Too often, we train someone in 50%-70% of the job.  We train them to the point where they can do the job but are not productive at it.  They then train themselves through trial and error the rest of the way.  That is why it takes someone so long to be productive in a job.  We say "they're new" but the real reason for the lack or productivity or quality is that they have not been fully trained.  As they train themselves, they are also creating scrap and rework and putting themselves in harm's way. Job Instruction Training is THE way to get a person to quickly remember how to do a job correctly, safely and conscientiously.  Any other method will take longer or is not as effective.

3- Continual Improvement - Next to Standard Work, Continual Improvement (CI) is a mainstay of a successful organization.  The difficult part for many mangers is how to get employees involved in making suggestions and improvements.  Kaizen events are used often, but people find that often the gains made are not sustained.  Also, unless the Kaizen leader is an excellent facilitator,  some people will not contribute to the event and their ideas will be lost.  Job Methods Training (JMT) offers a standard approach to getting people to vet their ideas, sell them to decision makers and then implement them.  When JMT is started in an organization, everyone contributes voluntarily because the changes make their jobs easier.  This is how Japanese companies record hundreds of improvements per employee per year.

4- Management Techniques - People are promoted into various supervisory positions because they are good at what they do.  Naturally, some are better than others.  When a person has a supervisory job (first line supervisor or Exec. VP), personnel situations are part of their job.  Part of the significant amount of training mentioned above is supervisory training.  More often than not, that training does not offer a standardized approach to handling personnel situations.  The result is that people are treated differently depending on to whom they report.  We accept small variations because we know that "some people are better at handling people than are others." Large variations are dealt with through reprimands , demotions, or firings.  The truth is that handling personnel situations is a skill that everyone can learn.  In addition, when all supervisors at all levels use the same method to handle personnel situations, morale improves because all employees understand that there is no favoritism and one person is not lucky or unlucky because of who his boss is. Job Relations Training offers a straightforward method of handling personnel situations that can and should be used at all levels in the organization. 

5- Problem Solving - There is much information available about how to address and solve problems.  Suffice to say that much of the programs published today have originated from Program Development (PD).  Unlike PD, however, they often do not offer insight into how to design a training program should one be needed.  For organizations without a formal training department which has employees who have college degrees in Course Design, PD offers a simplified, yet effective method to not only solve problems but also to design a training program, which can be a solution to 80% of those problems.

6- Morale, Teamwork, Communication - Employee Engagement - Volumes have been written about these subjects and even one of them can be a sore problem for many managers.  Just how does one improve morale, teamwork and communication?  How does one get employees more engaged in their work?  Although the TWI Programs are not a "silver bullet," they do enable all four of these behaviors. Employees readily see that by using the three "J" Programs, their work becomes easier and they feel they have more control over what they do.  They start talking more to other employees about jobs because that is what the Programs require that they do.  They also start working together more for the same reason.  Furthermore, these behaviors are not coerced; the employees do them voluntarily.  There is no set plan to make this happen - it just happens through human nature. That is the true power of TWI!




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