Sustaining Results Using Training Within Industry

Author: Pat Boutier

Posted: May 2017

A major challenge for all LSS practitioners is how to sustain results achieved during their project. Basically, the entire Control Phase is about sustaining results.  Fortunately there is an existing body of knowledge which complements Lean Six Sigma and was developed for the express purpose of teaching employees how to do their job correctly: TWI or Training Within Industry.

TWI has a fascinating history. It was  created during the early part of the 20th century and implemented widely in the United States from 1940-45 in response to the need to train thousands of new factory workers to support the war effort. A government-created organization developed Job Instruction (JI) to teach supervisors how to quickly train others, how to do their jobs quickly, safely, and conscientiously.  It was the largest training experiment in history.  Consider this comment about TWI from 1945:

’Within 6 years 1,750,000 supervisory employees, [definition: “those who direct the work of others”], in all industries within the USA were trained. By an arm of the War Manpower Commission known as Training Within Industry.”

New York World Telegram, 9/29/1945.

A sample result from that period – covering parts of Texas, Louisiana & New Mexico -states that a total of 2,693,790 man hours were saved at an average wage of $ 0.70 per hour. This amounted to a savings of $1,885,652 with a cost of training of only $235,000. This result was for one small portion of the USA.  In today’s wages, this effort alone would have represented, at minimum wage, over $18 million savings and perhaps as much as $38 million for an investment of around $4 million (almost a 10 X return). This could conservatively be put at 20% of the US TWI manufacturing impact at the time.  Which would mean in just man-hours saved alone amounts to $190 million in today’s dollars. And this does not include benefits in increased quality, decreased scrap and many more items. , and winning the war, anyone?

Why did I bring you into that trip down memory lane?  There is lots of talk these days about micro learningthat is, learning ‘chunks’ of information.  It is what schoolteachers call teachable moments. And TWI provides a mechanism for doing just that: Using micro-learning principles to accomplish change.

In any case Control, or in my preferred terms, Sustain, is generally difficult.  You may have heard about entropy – a principle in physics that says (basically) all systems tend to degrade over time. Or you could use a more basic word:  decay. That is generally what happens when after improvement occurs in a process. Quite often there is a steady degradation (decay) which occurs as time passes. The process tends to go back to how the process was operating before the changes were implemented.

Most LSS Practitioners think that people just naturally fight control.  Although there is some truth in that idea it tends not to be the general dynamic in the gradual decay of improvements. To a degree, entropy happens regardless of culture.

But back to the key takeaway: In order to Sustain, one has to train people in the new habits.  That’s right, you’ve heard it before, it requires a change in behavior and that change in behavior requires new habits. Well you might be asking at this point : How do I do that?  Of course I have the answer: Job Instruction from the Training Within Industry programs. This methodology worked in the 1940’s and has been accelerated in the 2000’s because it utilizes learning in chunks, using a method that teaches new habits where people learn how to do something in less time, in the standard best way. “The way to get a person to quickly remember to do a job, Correctly, Safely Conscientiously,” per TWI, Library of Congress.

In addition to Job Instruction (JI), TWI also includes JR (Job Relations – Leadership Skills) and JM (Job Methods – Improvement Skills).

If you want to learn more please contact me and we can talk about it:

Email Pat Boutier

Phone: (817) 307-0618


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