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#Lean historical document: #TWI Complete program for a plant

I think you will spend 217 seconds reading this post

In the myriad of documents produced by the TWI during World War 2, there’s a one page synthesis of what a “TWI Complete program for a plant” ought to be (you can see this document in the files section of the Yahoo TWI discussion group).

What’s important to me in this document is that it highlights some key points about the specific roles of TWI and Plant Management in implementing the TWI training programs.

I get a lot of insights in these documents about why lean may not stick in today’s organizations and how we could change this (indeed, the way TWI devised their management contact procedures would behelpful for any kind of change program!). Of course, the context is really different nowadays than during war 60 years ago, but these points still are important. They probably are even more important now than formerly in order to secure change because current context may not be seen as urgent.

The aforementioned document has three parts, of which I’m only quoting the first and the last:

  1. What T.WI.I does
  2. What the TWI programs are (not quoted here)
  3. What the plant does

What T.W.I. does

  • Present TWI complete program – to top management
  • and Demonstrates program methods – to middle management
  • Starts program in the plant – for first level management
  • Checks program results – with all levels of management

What’s striking me in this section is that all levels of management get a chance to acquaint themselves with TWI programs. By this, one can ensure that:

  • top management knows what it’s all about (eases sponsoring)
  • middle management deeply knows what it is (prevents resistance and eases sponsoring)
  • results are followed at all levels to ensure that the TWI programs are kept on top of the stack in management’s head

What the plant does

  • Top management – authorizes programs and plans use (accepts training as an operating function at all levels. Designates […] coordinator)
  • Middle management – Promotes understanding and gives support (arranges convenient schedules for employee coverage)
  • First-level management – Starts training in basic supervisor skills (improves supervisory skills by continuiing use – Follow-through)
  • All levels of management – Check production results

Here, we can see that TWI fostered deep commitment from top management. Not only did the programs were sold, TWI also got top management to understand and take action to recognize that training was indeed part of management job in operating functions. Also, with a coordinator designated by top management, the work can continue without taking too much time of the sponsor, avoiding the risk of him getting upset by constant dragging into programs details.

Next, middle management, often being seen as a source of (change) resistance is here given an active role in supporting and planning the program. This is a way to both appeal to every management person’s will to help others (something I’m deeply convinced: people do want to contribute to others and to something bigger than themselves) and to ensure that the program is well fitted to each and every specifics of all departements of the company. Nobody’s overlooked in the process and everybody gets a change to contribute. From a systems thinking point of view, one could say that TWI complete program for a plant had requisite variety!

As for first-level management, it is clearly stated that their role will be to put the programs in continuiing use (for there is no results otherwise). There are other TWI documents related to how Follow-Through is supposed to be done.

And lastly, all levels of management need to check production results. That’s not a check of how many people were trained, but really a check of what kind of production improvements were done by way of TWI programs: increased production, man-hours saved, reduction in training time – tool breakage – scrap – grievances. So, in the end, it should be clear in everybody’s head that TWI helps solve production problems, as defined and viewed by all management levels in the company.

(The document is dated February 10, 1944, so it’s not modern rocket science!)

I hope this review of one of TWI documents will shed light on their training program efficiency and that you took some ideas home for improving your own change and lean programs.

I plan to comment on other TWI documents, so stay tuned!

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