Jim Huntzinger has been an advocate of Training within Industry (TWI) for many years. His most recent effort has been the development of a learning website centered on introducing TWI to the masses. I encourage you to take a peek at http://www.whatistwi.com/.
Jim Huntzinger has researched at length the evolution of manufacturing in the United States with an emphasis on Lean’s influence and development. He has researched and worked to re-deploy TWI (Training Within Industry) within industry and uncovered its tie with the Toyota Way. He is also developing the history of Ford’s Highland Park plant and its direct tie to Toyota’s business model and methods of operation. Jim is the Founder and President of Lean Frontiers.
I did a podcast with Jim a while back that discussed TWI and asked him: You did a lot of research on the evolution of Lean’s influence and development in manufacturing in the United States. I saw an article from you back in 2002 about TWI, or Training Within Industry and you called it, “The Roots of Lean”, or “The Origin of Kaizen”. Could you tell me how you got involved with TWI?
I guess my nature; I’m an engineer as far as education, career wise I’m an accountant, but I guess I’ll define myself as a curious engineer. When I was going through my Lean implementation early on, we were doing a lot of things that a lot of companies were doing. In the early nineties and still now, a lot of companies are going through it today, which is implementing flow manufacturing along with that you have, you want Standard Work put in place in order for those lines to function consistently. You know based on TAKT time. Well that was always a problem.
We actually would put together standard work and spend a lot of time. The engineers worked with the operational people, the operators; the supervisors and department managers to work out good standard work based on the same methodology that Toyota used. The interesting thing was we still got a lot of inconsistencies for a variety of reasons. I just always felt that there is something missing, but I didn’t know what that something was, something was missing that Toyota or the group companies, were using, that made them more effective at it.
I thought; they’re humans like everybody else; it’s not like they’re any smarter; there’s just got to be something missing. When I stumbled upon the TWI, actually I read something about it, in a couple of books that just mentioned it briefly, and it was this World War II program called Training Within Industries, but I kept thinking what the heck does some World War II program have got to do with the Toyota production system?
I spend about another year or two trying to find out actually what TWI was and then when I finally did start getting some information on it. It was a report written about it by the folks, who did it during World War II. This report from 1945, I was just shocked by what I was reading. I was going, “Oh my gosh, this is the very thing that this guy had gone through, was some of the stuff that I’ve gone through when I worked for The Toyota Group Company.
I’d gone through some of the early; the original Kaizen workshops done by the Productivity group originally back in the early 90?s called Five Days in a Night Workshop, and this was verbatim the same thing they’re going through. What I discovered by continuing research in this that TWI was developed in the United States to help us in the war effort, to help us build up our own armaments. It was a massive success and when we deployed it to Japan during the occupation that it got institutionalized in Japan and the industry.
They’re still using it today and in particular, specific to Toyota. It was actually the very thing that Toyota had grabbed onto to help drive the methods they were trying to drive. They had actually spent nearly seven years trying to make changes in the machine shop to change it from a batch to a flow environment, and they actually struggled, like all the rest of us for quite a few years.
TWI became the; I kind of called it the vehicle that they used to really leverage and drive these changes through the machine shop, through Toyota and originally out in their supply base, and it evolved into what we call today, Standard Work and Kaizen. They evolved it at Toyota because they’ve using it for about 50 years. But the job instruction, which is how you train people, is still based very much in the same format as when it was deployed back during the occupation.
This was this thing I’ve been looking for that really makes Standard Work much more successful, much more powerful in an organization. It also becomes just a building block on developing, you know Toyota’s big on developing people, this is also one of their foundational building blocks they used to develop people.
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