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Training Within Industry : Lean foundations, use it for teaching Systems Thinking?

November 16th, 2010 Posted in Lean, Systems Thinking Tags: , ,

I would like here to just make some quick notes about what are probably the origins of Lean (apart from Taiichi Ohno’s own ideas, of course).

First of all, there’s a great mailing-list on Yahoo: Training_Within_Industry. The list just awoken a few days ago and it’s always some great contributions. Mark Warren is the group’s main contributor as he’s regularly investigating US Defense archives to recover TWI documents.

What is TWI? Or, more precisely, what was it?

During World War II, a US agency named “War Manpower Commission” created a department called “Training Within Industry” whose objective was to devise some ways to improve manufacturing efficiency during war time. Indeed, because of most manpower being sent to the front in Europe, few people were available to run home-based plants, for civil and military production. And so it was sought for a way to train people not used to work in manufacturing plants (it is said such a population was mainly composed of women and black people). Moreover, with the lack of people and the need for increased production (some plants needing to produce both for civil and defense ends), a way to improve plants efficiency was also needed. Lastly, as management too had been sent to the front, newly appointed managers need to quickly learn how to manage people and keep good job relations. That was the basis of the TWI program.

Origins of the TWI program itself come from the work of Charles R. Allen, mainly his book “The instructor, the man and the job“.

And so the TWI service was created and devise four methods:

  • Job Instruction Training (JIT) that allows quick and efficient instruction of someone to a new job
  • Job Methods Training (JMT) that explains how to improve any job
  • Job Relations Training (JRT) that explains how to build and maintain good working relations between management and frontline operators
  • Program Development (PD) which details how to set up a training program to improve a plant efficiency, based on the first three methods (JIT, JMT, JRT).

(It should also be noted for completeness that another method was also designed: Job Union Relations Training, an adaptation of JRT for improved Unions/management relations).

I am not going to detail these methods here: they are all available on Internet (PDF scans of the original manuals – see my delicious TWI links for instance), but I just would like to note that Job Instruction is almost used word for word at Toyota for instructing new hires on their job. Also, Mark Warren created two books (related to Job Instruction) out of them after deep analysis of all available TWI documents (including internal reports). See the bookstore page on Mark Warren web site.

Now, what if we could design a way to teach some form of Systems Thinking using JIT, maybe that could ease its mainstream diffusion?

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