There’s a lot of excellent documents about the links between Lean and TWI archives. Probably the best of them all is “Root of Lean” from Jim Huntzinger.
We all know how it is difficult to change a company from traditional management to a Lean management organization. Unless you’re the CEO of that company, you’re doomed to fail. And even then success is never a given: it’s an ongoing struggle.
Still, not all of the people interested in Lean are CEO. Indeed, far from it. We have a whole bunch of consultants trying to Lean us and some internal people (like me) interested in Lean that see it as a clever and powerful way to improve
- the customer experience,
- the stakeholders’ purses
- AND, last but not least, the employees experience.
And the magic being that it’s possible because all these three things go hand in hand. Should you see this as a zero-sum game, you’d probably fail to do Lean.
Lean is indeed a positive sum game. The more you improve one aspect of an organization, the more the other aspects should improve accordingly.
During World War II, companies needed a quick way to improve war production. That resulted in the TWI 4 programs (job instruction, job methods, job relations and program development). At the end of the war, these methods were not seen as needed as before and were somewhat forgotten (read the Roots of Lean documents to know more). Yet, they were imported to and used in Japan, especially at the young Toyota Motors company.
And that’s precisely where my personal interest in these documents is: in their status as “roots of Lean”. Because Lean evolved partly out of them, I’m interested in the learning path that may exist from TWI to Lean. For anybody that read a bit about Lean and TWI, it’s evident that TWI is simpler than Lean. And what’s fortunate for us is that they documented all their experiences and updated the different manual to reflect this.
People try to copy Toyota. It’s both a good and a bad thing because Toyota is so advanced in Lean: it’s a very good model, but also a very difficult one to replicate. By studying TWI I hope to find a maybe less sophisticated continuous improvement method but one that should be easier to start and sustain. Plus, there’s all the knowledge experience accumulated by the TWI representatives and available in the different versions of the manuals with plenty of useful dos and don’ts about setting a TWI program in a company. TWI is for me a sort of complete “how to” setup manual for improving management in companies. Upon understanding how to setup TWI programs, I hope to have an easier way to transform that into Lean.
What we have in TWI are:
- a Management Contact Manual explaining what needs to be secured before starting anything else related to the TWI programs.
- training manuals for trainers
- training the trainers (“Institute”) manuals
- reference cards
- a method for coaching (securing training)
- and a method explaining How to Get Continuing Results.
Plus, the results have been documented since the beginning and it worked. Moreover, it seems to be that TWI’s approach worked a lot more better than current Lean change management approaches in use today. Of course we have different conditions. But I definitively think TWI’s documents are worth studying.
Should you be interested in TWI, please join the Yahoo mailing list and the LinkedIn group.