CI 101

What is the Job Relations Training?

Job Relations Training (JR) is the third program of the Training within Industry group.  Teaches supervisors how to evaluate and take proper actions to handle and to prevent people’s problems.  It focuses on training workers to solve personal problems with other coworkers in an analytical way minus emotions, with an emphasis on treating people as individuals and understanding people on all levels.  This class is divided into two parts, the foundation for good relations and how to handle a problem.  The outline below is taken from the JR card.

Foundation for Good Job Relations

People must be treated as individuals

  • Let each employee know how he is getting along
    • Find out and communicate the expectations you have. 
    • Point out ways to improve.
  • Give credit when due
    • Recognize extra or unusual performance, as soon as possible, while it is still fresh.
  • Tell an employee in advance about changes that will affect him.
    • If it is possible, start explaining WHY.  
    • Get people to accept the change. 
  • Make the best use of each person’s ability
    • Look for ability not now being used. 
    • Never stand in an employee’s way.

How to Handle a Problem

  1. Get the facts – Be sure you have the whole story!
    • Review the record
    • Find out what rules and plant policies apply
    • Talk with individuals concerned
    • Get opinions and feelings
  2. Weigh and Decide – Do not jump at conclusions!
    • Fit the facts together
    • Consider their bearing on each other
    • What possible actions are there?
    • Consider objective and effect on individuals, 
  3. Take Action – Do not pass the buck!
    • Are you going to handle this yourself?  
    • Do you need help? Should you refer this to your supervisor?
    • Watch the timing of your action and how will affect production, attitudes and relations.
  4. Check Results – Did your action help production?
    • How soon will you do a follow-up?
    • How often do you need to check?
    • Watch for changes in output, attitudes, and relationships.

The objective of this program is to build positive relationships between employees by resolving conflicts that arise in the workplace following a standard procedure founded in the principle of treating each person as individuals.  By establishing the foundation of good relations, it also seeks to prevent problems from happening as a way to maintain a positive environment. 

This module was the precursor of one of the continuous improvement or lean tenets, respect the people.  It presents honest, on-time, and effective communication as a way to prevent problems.  Other ideas that we know today as part of lean thinking are team development, making decisions based on facts, and reflecting on the result of your actions.  Let me remind you that this was written in the US in the early ’40s by the War Manpower Commission.  It is time that we put these ideas into practice again. You can read the original reference materials with this link.

Job Relations Training Summary Card
Job Relations Card
CI 101

What is the Job Methods Training Program?

Job Methods Training (JM) is the second program of the Training within Industry group.  It teaches supervisors the procedure to improve how to do the job continuously.  It focuses on improvements to get more quality products in less time with the effective use of the resources available.   Supervisors and employees learn how to improve processes by breaking them down into smaller steps questioning each one as a way to generate improvement ideas.  

JM teaches four steps to improve the job, break down the job, question every detail, develop a new method for performing the job, and then apply it.  See the program summary taken from the JM card, at the end of the post.

Break Down the Job

  • Use the Job Breakdown sheet to list each step and detail of the job as it’s currently performed. 
  • Be sure to include all aspects of material handling, machine work, and work performed by hand.

Question every detail

  • Review the list of job steps and details and question each one. 
  • Ask questions using the 5W’s and 1H
    • Why is this necessary?
    • What’s the purpose?
    • Where’s the best place to do it?
    • When is the best time to do it?
    • Who’s the worker that’s most qualified/most appropriate to do it?
    • How is the best way to do it?
  • Also, question every other detail related to the job task, like materials, equipment, workplace layout, process flow, and housekeeping.  

Develop a new method to perform the job

  • Eliminate unnecessary steps and details
  • Combine steps to reduce waste when it is possible
  • Put steps into the best sequence (order)
  • Simplify all details possible, like motion, layout, tools, and handling.
  • Work out and review your ideas with other workers
  • Write up a proposal

Apply the new method

  • Begin the process of getting change approved and implemented
  • Get approval based on considerations related to safety, quality, quantity, and cost
  • Implement change
  • Make sure people involved in proposing change get due credit or recognition.

If all this sounds familiar, is because it is.  You heard this before when we talk about how to create Standard Work to solve problems.  Once you prove the new method accomplishes the purpose of getting more quality products in less time using effectively the resources available, it is time to create the new standard.

CI 101

What is Job Instruction Training?

One of the responsibilities of every leader is to develop themself and develop their team.   Job instruction training is a huge part of each person’s development. One of the dilemmas of every supervisor is how to facilitate effective training.  Is all the relevant information included?  Is the teaching method adequate?  Did the trainee learn the most important aspects of the work?

What is Job Instruction Training

The Job Instruction Training teaches supervisors how to train employees to do a job correctly and safely, while it can hit the performance objectives. With this method, the supervisor will learn how to prepare the training to make sure the learning experience accomplishes its purpose.  Also, it will learn how to train the team to perform necessary job skills, with an emphasis on how to do the job correctly and safely, reaching the desire productivity level on the new skill(s) as quickly as possible, and reducing waste.

You can think about this program as a “train the trainer” type.  The class is divided into two stages, how to get ready to train and how to conduct the training.   The following is a summary or outline of what each one includes as per the JI card.

How to get ready to train  

  1. Create a training timetable
    • Determine the skills your workers need to perform the task under study. 
      • Assess which workers already possess each skill.
      • Create a timetable detailing by what date you want each employee to learn those skills. 
  2. Break down the job into important steps and key points
  3. Have everything ready
    • Prepare equipment, materials, and supplies for training
      • Get all training materials ready in advance and check you have everything you need.
  4. Arrange the workplace
    • Have the workplace arranged the way workers should keep it. 

How to Conduct the Training

  1. Prepare the worker
    • Make the employee feel comfortable.
    • Talk about the job and see what the employee knows about it already.
    • Get the person interested in the job.
    • Make sure the worker is in the correct position (sitting, standing, etc.) to learn the job.
  2. Present the Job/Operation 
    • Tell, show, and illustrate one important step at a time.
    • Stress each key point and reason; instruct clearly, completely, and patiently, but do not give more information than the person can master.
      • Tell the worker how many steps there are in the job. 
      • Demonstrate the job, step-by-step.
    • At the end, demonstrate the entire job again.  This time, while performing each step, say what the step is but also mention any key point for that step.
    • Do this for each step in the job.
    • Demonstrate the entire job again. This time show every step and state each step, key point, and reason.
    • Pay attention to the worker. 
  3. Try out Performance 
    • Once you believe the worker is ready, let the worker try to perform the task.
    • Have the employee do the job, step-by-step
    • Correct any errors as they come up
    • Have the employee do the job again, this time with worker also stating each important step, key point, and reason.
    • Make sure the worker understands the job and steps
    • Continue until you’re sure he/she knows. 
    • Have the worker complete the task on his/her own. 
  4. Follow Up
    • Release worker from training, make sure he/she knows who to go to for help
    • Check in often, see how things are going, observe performance, encourage questions.
    • Stop periodic follow-up only when you are100% convinced the worker has mastered the job skill.

Job Instruction Training and PDCA

It is not a coincidence that each section has four steps. They go through a plan-do-see approach or PDCA.  The chart below illustrates this point.   

PDCA and Job Instruction training
Job Instruction Program and PDCA

This procedure provides a structure for the training program.  This standard is clear and simple, as it should be, and you can use it in any industry.  If you want to learn more about this, you can read the original session outline and training material from the War Manpower Commission. Try it, and make this procedure your standard for designing and facilitating training.

Job Instruction Card
Job Instruction Card
CI 101

What is Training within Industry?

While getting ready to write about Training within Industry, I remember my experience with the lack of this type of instruction. My first day as a team leader was exciting and terrifying.  I had no idea how to be a team leader.  While my supervisor and I discussed the job description, she highlights a few things. Nevertheless, there was nothing about how to supervise people.   When I asked, all the answers refer to instruct people what to do and how, follow-up, and fix problems.  Yet, that was not a good enough answer because how do you give instructions, how do you do a follow-up?  How do I know everything was all right?  Whenever I thought about how I was going to guide the team and ensure we meet our department goals, my brain went into overdrive.  The wheels inside my head were turning so hard that I could hear them.  In summary, I had no idea how to do my job.

How the Training Within Industry Program started?

Many years before my experience, a leadership development program was created by the U.S. government during World War II.  The program provides supervisors and team leaders with the ability to lead, instruct, and improve the methods of their jobs.  

The USA Department of War created the Training Within Industry (TWI) in the early 40s. The objective was to help ramp up the production of war materials and equipment. During the occupation period after World War II, the United States Air Force (USAF) initiated, developed, and introduce the Management Training Program (MTP) to Japan.  The American occupation forces brought in experts to Japan to help to rebuild their industry. Edward Deming and Joseph Juran were part of the group.  

MTP teaches the importance of human relations and employee involvement. It explains how to continuously improve processes and products and the value of practicing CI. The program also explains the scientific method approach (Deming Cycle or PDCA) to manage operations.

What is TWI?

TWI is a group of programs that are intended to be used together for comprehensive workforce development.  It introduced three standardized training programs, Job Instruction Training, Job Methods, and Job Relations Training.  Each program had a manual and a card summarizing the program, like a memory jogger. The first module, Job instruction training teaches how to prepare and train the “one best way” to do the work, which we now call standard work. The second, Job Methods teach employees how to improve processes by breaking them down into smaller steps questioning each one as a way to generate improvement ideas.  Job Relations Training teaches how to solve people’s problems. This training teaches supervisors how to evaluate and take proper actions to handle and to prevent people’s problems.

Although these programs were very successful, their use in the US gradually disappeared over time.  But in Japan, they were the foundation for developing the roles, responsibilities, and kills of supervisors at Toyota.   Why don’t we use these pieces of training as the baseline to create customized development plans for our supervisors?  I have no idea of the answer. But for sure, I would have had a lot fewer headaches if my former company had something like that.  In the following posts, I will give more details about each of these programs.


What is Servant Leadership?

Servant leadership focuses on the development and well-being of the people.

Many years ago, the company I was working with was getting ready for a transformation.  The hourly rate structure had too many classifications and a great variety of job functions. I team up with the human resources team to create the new structure.  

After a detailed analysis of every function and its responsibilities, we combined some functions and created new names for them.  The HR manager suggested changing the Supervisor’s position name to Facilitators.  I did not understand why, and 100% of my peers did not understand either.

Fast forward a couple of years, and now I am leading the lean implementation. When my lean coach brought up the concept of servant leadership was the first time I heard about it. He explained that continuous improvement is a people-centric system. My job as a is to take care of the team, not to facilitate events and teach tools. The tools are important, but it is the people who matter, he said.

Servant leadership is a different way to do things, a distinctive leadership style, or attitude.  A Servant Leader focuses on the development and well-being of the people.  The employees are first!  The leader’s job is to develop more leaders by teaching, motivating, facilitating, and supporting the team.  Below are examples of how you can be a better leader.

Servant leadership and Teaching

  • With teaching and mentoring, you get people to do things that otherwise they wouldn’t. These skills and experiences change their work and their entire life.  
  • A servant leader creates the right environment for learning and building trust.
  • It also handover the tools needed to be safe and effective.  


  • Encourage exploring new things and testing different ways to get better results.  
  • Follow-up on suggestions and ideas. Seen your ideas implemented is a powerful motivation.

Facilitate & Support

  • Facilitate and endorse collaboration between teams by promoting participation in kaizen to solve cross-functional problems.
  • Give them information, resources, and better work environments to ensure success.
  • Provide the right continuous improvement support system. Examples of this are training schedules, suggestion programs, quality circles, daily improvements, and the right compensation systems.
  • Understand and support the team all the time, regardless they succeed or not. Show them that in continuous improvement you win, or you learn.  
  • Not everybody learns at the same pace, be patient and empathic.  Help them to achieve what they believe is not possible, and to trust their own skills.

Practicing Servant Leadership

To be a servant leader, focus on the needs of others before your own. Every day, go and see what is going on for yourself. Experience the facts firsthand and listen to their concerns and ideas. Learn about them as individuals, get to know the person behind the team member. Establish a relationship with your team and create the right environment for people to flourish. Are you ready to be a servant leader? Can you understand now why the name Facilitator was not such a bad idea? I do.

CI Tools

What is a swim-lane map? When do you use it?

The third type of map in our process mapping series is the swim-lane.  The Swim-lane map is also known as a process flow map or cross-functional flow chart.  This process flow map allows you to identify the duties and responsibilities of different departments or functions in a single process and see how they relate to each other.  It displays how the process flows, showing the departments in a vertical lane and functions or objectives in a horizontal direction, or vice versa. 

Swim-lane maps make it easier to visualize the responsibilities, duties, and objectives of each department as well as the bottlenecks, and redundancies.  Its use is common in supply chain, sales, marketing, and product development.

When do you use a swim-lane map?

  • The purpose of this type of map is to document processes, so people who are part of it understand the flow and how they affect others.
  • You need to clarify the responsibilities of complex processes, like those indicated above.
  • To improve communication and collaboration by giving the participants the chance to see how their work affects others and identify how their work is attached to the final product.
  • You need to understand the input and output for each function or department.

How to draw a swim-lane map

  1. Get a cross-functional team of process owners, about 5 to 10 people.
  2. Clarify the purpose or the objective.  What do you want to see or get from the map?  This step will help to facilitate the process and provides focus on the activity.
  3. Present the symbols for a process step, decision points, connectors, and others.
  4. Define the process mapping scope, what are the first and last steps.
  5. Label the map with the process name, date, and map scope.
  6. Draw a table in a whiteboard or using flip charts and mark the lines to create the swim-lane effect.  
  7. List the functions or department names on the column or row heading as per your preference. 
  8. Start drawing the process flow in chronological order.  If more than one step happens at the same time, draw them parallel to each other.
  9. Connect all the steps and decision points following the flow.
  10. When you reach the end of the process, make a second pass to verify that all steps are included.  

You can draw your swim-lane in Word, Visio, or any other software that you prefer.  I like to use a whiteboard and 3 x 6 Post-it notes to makes it easier for group participation.  For each step, describe what is done in simple words using verbs or nouns.  When the header contains the department name, write the name of the function that performs the task in the note.   If it is relevant to the purpose of the mapping exercise, you can include metrics like process time or details like what system or program is used.Identify the improvement opportunities, highlight those areas with too many handoffs, redundancy, waiting times, and others.  You can use PDCA to create the action plan, execute, and verify for effectiveness.  Reflect at the end of the exercise.  Was the objective accomplished?  What did you learn?  What do you need to communicate to all team members?  Get feedback from the team and improve the process mapping experience.  

CI 101

Continuous Improvement Every day, Everywhere, by Everybody

The most basic tenant of continuous improvement is that everyone in the company must work together every day, in every corner of the company, to pursue perfection through small changes.  The daily focus should be to practice the CI ground rules, 5S, waste elimination, and standardization.

Every day

Problems happen every day, same with safety hazards, quality issues, and many little things that affect productivity.  If that is true, then why waiting to have a continuous improvement event (kaizen, kaizen blitz, rapid improvement event) to change things for the better?  While small little improvements do not create the wow reaction that people like, these small wins add up, leading to significant changes.  

For leadership, it is critical to practice continuous improvement every day because they are responsible for modeling this new behavior.  Regardless of whatever challenges the day has in store, do not deviate from the new way of thinking.


One of the biggest problems of many companies is that people work in silos.  Decisions are taken every day without any regard to how they will affect other departments.  That is why continuous improvement has to impact every area, injecting the power of collaboration into everybody’s daily jobs.


Continuous improvement is part of everybody’s job, or at least it should be.  When changing the culture from traditional to lean thinking, it is critical to make clear that the CI is part of everybody’s job regardless of the department, position, seniority, or any other consideration.  Every day, every soul in the company should be finding a way to correct what is wrong, make their job easier or safer, or improving the flow by eliminating some waste.

Practice continuous improvement and change for the better, every day, everywhere, by everybody!  

CI Tools

What to do before, during, and after the gemba walk

Gemba walks, like any other process, needs a consistent structure or standard.  It helps to avoid confusion, clarify the purpose and intent, and provides general steps that facilitate customization for specific situations without losing the essence of what a gemba walk is.  

The walks have three stages, which happen before, during, and after the walk.  When you coach your team to be walkers with a purpose, you become more effective, learning by doing.  The more you practice, the better you become.

Preparation before the Walk

When you plan to go out for a gemba walk, the first thing you need to know is the purpose of the walk and to what area you will go.  Each walk needs a purpose or objective, which can be coaching, learn about a specific situation within a process, or looking for improvement opportunities.  Show respect for the owners of the area you are going to visit by letting them know in advance what is the purpose of your visit and how they can help.  Be honest about your intentions and clear about your expectations.  Right before the walk, take five minutes to explain the purpose and expectations of the walk to the team walking with you.   Remember that two of the walk benefits are to develop your team and drive alignment within the organization.

During the Walk

While walking, you will go and see, show respect, and ask what, then why. Understand the purpose of work and performance expectations. During the walk, observe if there is any gap between what is supposed to happen and what is happening.  Use the scientific process (PDCA) to identify the reasons and find the root cause.  As a leader, focus on the process as the source of errors, not the people.  

Ask what first, what is the purpose, what are the steps, or what are you trying to accomplish?  Asking those questions requires being mindful of how you are asking, not only your tone but your body language as well.  You want to show respect, listen to their words, be empathic, and let them feel that you care about their needs and feelings.  Make your actions consistent with your words, and do what you said you would do, be trustworthy.  

Once you gain an understanding of the situation, you can ask why questions.  While trying to gain a deeper understanding, it is appropriate to use the 5 Why technique.  

After the Walk

After the walk, take another five minutes to get an understanding of its effectiveness.  Listen to the observations and discussion points from the walkers.  Clarify any doubts and capture all observation and improvement ideas.  Get agreement on what improvements the group will work with and combine them into one list. Create a follow-up plan, who will work with what, and preliminary timeline. 

Do your best to stay focused on the agreed purpose of the walk.  Lead the walk in such a way that walkers understand that it is more effective if everybody focused on one thing at a time.  Unless you see something that is urgent, like a safety situation, do not deviate from the purpose agreed during the preparation stage.  Remember, continuous improvement works because it is focused on small improvements at a time. 

CI 101

10 Ground Rules to practicing continuous improvement or kaizen

While doing kaizen, obviously you are seeking to improve a process, but if you are focusing on the results, your heart is in the wrong place.  Continuous Improvement heart is the people; therefore, you should focus on their learning experience rather than the savings or productivity gain.  

When I facilitate kaizen events, I like to be clear about the expectations.  A number of those expectations are directed to leadership because, as stated before, they need to learn and model the new behaviors.  Kaizen is a learning activity, where curiosity, creativity, and the desire to learn and do new things are the main ingredients for success.  The following are ten ground rules for practicing continuous improvement.

  1. Practice Respect at all times, respect the people and their ideas, one person speaking at a time, listen to what others have to say, be on time, no finger-pointing, there are no bad ideas.
  2. Tune your mind to a new channel:  Lean Thinking.
  3. Keep an open mind, be curious, ask Why, What if, How could we?
  4. Challenge the status quo, ask Why five times, and find the root cause.
  5. No excuses!  Think Yes, we can do it if _____.
  6. Look for low-cost, rapid, and simple solutions. 
  7. It is ok (and encouraged) to disagree, but it is not ok to be disrespectful.
  8. The meeting room is a safe zone where there are no titles, all ideas and opinions have the same value, and it is ok, to be honest.  
  9. Correct what you see wrong, but there is no need to be perfect!
  10. Win or learn, here you do not lose!

These rules exist to ensure the right environment to encourage participation exists.  Kaizen is not a classroom training; it is learning by doing.  Create the environment to drive fear out of the door and let in creativity and curiosity.  Every team member deserves to have the opportunity to learn and be part of the activities that will change their work environment and processes. 

Team Development

Is it true that as a leader you have to trust, but verify?

Trust is such a contradictory feeling, we like to be trustworthy, but we are not trusting.  It happens everywhere, with all kinds of relationships.   Family, friendship, couples, acquaintances, work peers, almost every time human beings interact, there is this trust-not trust exchange in their minds.  Like any other habit, this is a hard one to break.  It has been developed upon years of lies, disappointments, and others.

To get trust, you have to freely give it.”  Bob Chapman

As a long time manager in manufacturing, one thing that I learned early in my career was to trust but verify.  I will trust people in their job, but I will go and check on them to find if they were doing what I ask.  Was I trusting my people?  Or was I giving instructions thinking that they will do something else, or that they don’t have the skills to figure it out on their own?  Either way, I was not trusting my team.  I learn that after years of learning continuous improvement. 

During my childhood, I spend a lot of time with my grandfather.  We had many conversations along the years on which he was trying to transfer his wisdom to me.  I did not know it back then, but he was setting the foundation for the future me.  He was trying to build a leader out of a shy and soft-spoken girl.  

There is one incident that I always remember as the day on which I learned how wonderful it feels to be trusted.  Every Saturday, my grandma will take me to Bible School, and while I was in class, she would go to see her clients (she was a beauty products seller), but by the time it finished, she was always there waiting for me.  One day, she wasn’t.  I wait, for a while, but by the time the church patio was empty, I was debating with myself if I should stay there or walk myself home. I saw a car driving through a couple of times, and when the driver asks me if he could drive me home, I decided it was time to take a risk and go home on my own.

It is an understatement to say that when my grandma arrives and did not see me, she was so nervous and desperate that she walked the mile and a half between the church and our house in record time.  I was there, still explaining to my grandpa why I did not wait.  My grandma hugs and kiss me, and then she yells at me, asking what I was thinking.  My grandpa asks her to listen first and understand my point of view.  After I explained what happened, he said, we educate her well, we teach her to trust her instincts, observe around her and use what she sees to adapt to each situation and learn.  You have been walking her all these years, was about time to let her do it on her own.  Trust that she learned and is responsible enough to recognize what she can do and when she should ask for help.

If you only trust your people with a competency you think they have, you’ll never give them the opportunity to show you something extraordinary.” Bob Chapman

Fast forward many years, and now I am in my first full-time job.  I was a team leader of a six people group, with no idea how to be a leader.  My father, who at the time, had more than twenty years of experience, told me the following.  “This is not easy, but always remember to treat people the same way you like to be treated.  Never ask your team to do something you are not willing to do yourself, show them respect by recognizing their knowledge and skills, but help them to grow and improve what they do, teach them, and trust”.

I always remembered the first part of his speech, treat people the same way you like to be treated, always has been my creed as a supervisor.  The bosses I had during the first few years of my career teaches me to trust but verify.  So that was what I did until I started to learn more about continuous improvement.  I was leading the lean implementation efforts with the help of a coach, who teaches me all the tools I could use.  Troubled with my doubts about how to deal with trust issues in the workplace, I asked, why do I build trust?

He made me remember that the most important thing on our journey was the people, not the tools.  Talking with him, I remembered the faces of all the people we help to learn new skills and do new jobs they never thought they could.  I have to think very hard to remember the success we had with process improvements and costs reduction, but I easily remember their happy faces for accomplishing something new and feeling trusted.  We show them that we care and that they matter.  That day, after the conversation with my coach, I remembered the words of my grandpa and my father, and I realized that I have to trust my people in the same way my grandpa trusted me.  That was part of treating my team the same way I like to be treated.

The need for being trusting and trustworthy is a critical concept for healthy relationships.  Values like respect, integrity, and kindness only have meaning if you show them regardless of your partner, coworker, or neighbor who has not shown them to you yet.  I think it is like a smile.  When you smile first, chances are the other person will smile too.  Even if he or she doesn’t smile the first few times, eventually they will.  As leaders, we need to trust our ability to explore new solutions, learn new tools, build self-discipline, and teach our team.  We also need to learn how to trust that they will do the right thing and that if they need help, they will ask for it.   After all, it feels so great to feel trusted!