Training Within Industry (TWI)

UPDATE 3/16/2009: New links! The TWI site has moved. There’s also a blog now. The TWI site now contains the problem solving manuals (pdf) that were used to such success in Japan (in English).

Oh happy day; I have a wonderful excuse to write about the missing link to Kaizen! The good news first (she says, clapping her hands and jumping up and down) then I’ll explain what TWI is. The Green Mountain Chapter (Vermont) of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) has started a web page with the goal of including all known TWI documents. There you can find the original WWII era manuals along with bulletins, videos and what not. One of their members Bryan Lund, actually went so far as to reclaim and post documents from the National Archives. I found out about the SME page because my better half started a TWI page on Wikipedia and they contacted him with the news of their website.

So what is Training Within Industry? The TWI Service was a program created by the United States Department of War during World War II. The purpose was to train factory workers during the crisis. Consider that era’s reality; most of the factory workers of America were going off to war -depleting labor from factories at precisely the time of greatest need. Who was going to “man” the factories? Why, who else but women? And most of them young ladies and homemakers at that. Production for the war effort was deemed a crisis of unimagined magnitude. Just how could the factories of America be run by women, few of whom had held so much as a screwdriver in the past, much less operated a welder? The solution was the TWI service.

So why should you care? TWI is a training program of utter simplicity. Using the tools of the program, you can literally train anyone to do anything -quickly and efficiently. Although lamentably abandoned for more than 50 years in the US, TWI continues to represent the greatest hope for training and increasing productivity within our own industry -or any other. If the war department was able to train homemakers who’s previous construction skills were limited to sewing and baking, just imagine what it could do for you.


TWI is the missing link to kaizen and lean manufacturing. From the Wiki:

Although the TWI program was abandoned at the end of the war, the instruction methods were introduced to the war-torn nations of Europe and Asia. It was especially well-received in Japan, where TWI formed the basis of the kaizen culture in industry. Kaizen, known by such names as Quality Circles in the West, was successfully harnessed by Toyota Motor Corporation in conjunction with the Lean or Just In Time principles of Taiichi Ohno. In fact, in the Introduction to Dinero (2005), John Shook relates a story in which a Toyota trainer brought out an old copy of a TWI service manual to prove to him that American workers at NUMMI could be taught using the “Japanese” methods used at Toyota. Thus, TWI was the forerunner of what is today regarded as a Japanese creation.

TWI had a direct impact on the development and use of kaizen and Standard Work at Toyota. These fundamental elements are embedded within the functional system at Toyota and Job Instruction is taught and used within Toyota today. The kaizen methodology is a direct descendant of Job Methods, and most likely Job Relations had an impact on the development and function of the Team and Group Leader structure in Toyota.

Many of the points above should look familiar to students of W. Edwards Deming. The PDCA style of the training programs, the JI litany about failure being on the shoulders of the instructor, and even the JI and JM methods themselves. Deming lectures frequently included statements similar to the JR slogan, “People Must Be Treated As Individuals.”

The TWI service is comprised of 3 modules (from the brochure):

Job Methods Training (JM). Teaches supervisors how to improve the way jobs are done. The aim of the program is to help produce greater quantities of quality products in less time by making the best use of the people, machines, and materials now available. Supervisors are taught how to break down jobs into their constituent operations. They question details and develop new methods by eliminating, combining, and rearranging these details.

Job Instruction Training (JI). Teaches supervisors how to quickly train employees to do the job correctly, safely, and conscientiously. The objective is to help supervisors develop a well-trained workforce resulting in less scrap and rework, fewer accidents, and less tool and equipment damage. Supervisors are taught how to effectively break down a job for instruction. The method emphasizes preparing the operator to learn, giving a proper demonstration, identifying the key points in the job, observing the operator perform trial runs, and tapering off coaching while continuing to follow up.

Job Relations Training (JR). Teaches supervisors how to build positive employee relations, increase cooperation and motivation, and effectively resolve conflicts. JR emphasizes that people must be treated as individuals. Supervisors are given foundations for developing and maintaining good relations to prevent problems from arising. Principles include providing constructive feedback, giving credit when due, telling people in advance about changes that will affect them, making the best use of each person’s ability and earning the employee’s loyalty and cooperation. When problems do arise, it teaches supervisors how to get the facts, weigh them, make the decision, take action, and check results.

In summary, the Training Within Industry program is the very foundation of Lean Manufacturing. Unlike the US where the program has languished over the past 50 years, Toyota used the program to form the core of its manufacturing philosophy and competency. Without TWI, there is no Lean. This is why TWI is often described as Lean’s missing link. I hope you’ll enjoy perusing SME Chapter 204’s TWI website.

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9 comments

  1. This is bizarre – I just finished editing an article on TWI by Jim Huntzinger, Patrick Graupp and Bob Wrona when Kathleen sent me an e-mail titled TWI. The article had a lot of good stuff I think I will have to cut in order to get it down to size for “Lean Directions.” I’m sure Jim would be happy to share info with anyone: jim@leanaccountingsummit.com

    There was a definite murmur about TWI at the Shingo Prize conference. It seems to have escalated to a buzz, and I don’t know what comes after that.

    Kathleen, thanks for joining SME. I’ll forward this TWI post to Jim.

  2. Rebecca says:

    I had never heard of TWI, but it seems to me the potential for positive is HUGE. As an educational system it appears to treat both people and task respectfully.

    Thanks for your thought-provoking posts.

  3. If you’ll forgive me for blowing our own horn, I’d like to mention that here at Productivity Press, we have published two relevant books within the past year:
    Training Within Industry: The Foundation of Lean, by Donald Dinero, which won the 2006 Shingo Research prize,
    and more recently,
    The TWI Workbook: Essential Skills for Supervisors, by Patrick Graupp and Robert Wrona. Both can be found on our Web site.

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    >I am righting a dissertation about ““How effective employee motivation tools can affect working conditions in Zara?”

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  6. Melissa Brown says:

    Regarding those women who took over work in the factories durring WWII, their lives were not what you might think.

    One of my grandmothers was a welder in the Kaiser shipyards in her early twenties. When I first heard about this I expressed my surprise that she had done “a man’s job.” (I was very young and unenlightened.) After pointing out to me that there was nothing inherent in the work requiring a welder to be male, she said “things used to be different in those days.” She had worked as a child, even before she got paid for it. Paid work started when she was 13 and was forced to drop out of school (to her everlasting chagrin) to earn money for her living. She said “Life was harder then and you did what you had to to get by,” which meant she worked as hard as her brothers, and often beside them, at whatever work they could find. The Depression had left her family dirt poor and her father valued money in the hand over education in the brain. As a result of these influences, my grandmother became one of those people who was always interested in learning something new and improving her lot in life: make a large garden feed her family, sew for money, wait tables, keep books for her employer, work on cars, weld a Liberty Ship. It was a natural progression to her way of thinking.

    She also said that the war effort gave her and my grandfather their big opportunity to move up in the world when the shipyards opened and they knew it. They came from an area in Missouri where most of the jobs were on farms or in mines. My grandfather lost a brother in a mining accident and could not handle being underground. Neither came from a family with any land to farm, so they picked up, moved to Portland and got jobs with Kaiser.

    The major impression her life story left me with is that people thought and acted very differently when she was a child. She would always tell me that her childhood was not unusual and there were even people who had it worse than her family. (I shudder now, as then, to think of it.) I used to think she was minimizing what had happened, trying to “normalize” it. But now that I am middle-aged and have a better perspective on life, I think she was right about “things” being different, especially people’s experience of daily life. Back then people understood the difference between wants and needs because their daily lives incorporated basic survival tasks: pump and haul water to drink and clean with, tend a garden to be able to eat, bury your night soil to avoid disease, build a fire and sew clothing to keep yourself warm, and walk two miles to get to work everyday, regardless of the weather.

    TWI requires a mindset that responds to a problem with a “can-do” attitude and perserverance. Americans had that during WWII. Unfortunately, currently our country seems stuck in a quagmire of “Ew! I don’t want to deal with that” and I don’t see the current economic problems lighting a fire under people the way I thought they would.

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