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.

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.

Everywhere

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.

Everybody

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 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. 

CI 101

Do you know that using the right continuous improvement tools is key for lean implementation success? Guide to choosing the right tool for the job.

One of the key elements for a successful continuous improvement implementation is to use the right tools for the job.  Lean has a wide variety of tools to choose from, you do not have to use all of them, but you should know which ones are available and be able to choose the right one as per your needs.  Identify which tools make sense for your operation is an early step in the continuous improvement implementation.  What I am presenting below is a guide to know which tool is useful for each occasion.  Keep in mind that some of them are good for more than one scenario.  Also, it is possible to use more than one tool for a specific situation.

Design a toolbox with the tools you will need to support the lean implementation journey.  Learn how to use them, teach your team, and together use them to transform your operation.  While you do that, take in mind the following.

1.    The purpose of using these tools is not just to improve the operation.  The most important part is to create a learning environment where exploring new solutions in a control testing structure is a way to develop your team skills and allow them to use their creativity and expertise to improve their processes.

2.    Lean is a system and not a tools supermarket.  What makes it good is not the effectiveness of individual tools, but the synergy between them to achieve the goal.

CI 101

Kaizen and Employees Involvement. The role of suggestion programs and quality circles.

The daily activities that are critical to achieving the kaizen goals are the three pillars, standardization, 5S, and waste elimination.  These activities are successful only if the foundation, made up of employee engagement activities, is strong.  The employee involvement activities are teamwork, self-discipline, moral enhancement, improvement suggestions, and quality circles.  The last two provide information on how active employees are in continuous improvement activities.

Suggestion Program

The purpose of this system is to motivate the employees to provide as many suggestions as possible.  One of the management responsibilities is to share with their teams the company goals and educate them on how their daily work connects to those goals.  If they accomplish that, hopefully, the team will suggest things aligned to those goals. 

The suggestion program should be easy to participate, have clear rules, standards (form with all required information, acceptance criteria, how to prioritize, time to provide feedback), and simple procedures that cover the areas of how to motivate participation, decision-making, how to provide feedback, program promotion, and recognition.

Quality Circles

Quality circles are an informal and voluntary small-group activity designed to address quality, safety, cost, and productivity issues.  You know your employees are engaged in continuous improvement when they suggest or ask to meet with other teammates to work on an idea.  The idea could be part of the kaizen they are working with, a simple checklist to minimize errors, or to create visual marks to improve a process.  Management support to these groups is vital because they can help to remove obstacles, facilitate resources and training, as well as oversee what is going on to ensure that policies and critical criteria are met.

These systems or activities are excellent ways to take the temperature of the continuous improvement effort.  The more participation, the more active and engage the employees are.  They are also excellent vehicles to boost the employee’s morale, which is another daily activity to ensure kaizen success.  It is very important to practice respect for the people, respect their ideas, and always provide feedback.  The main idea behind all these is to develop your people, to provide the environment to explore, learn, and change.

CI 101

How to promote lean methods and tools? One of the leadership’s daily responsibilities to create a continuous improvement culture.

For a successful continuous improvement journey, there are five things that leaders have to do daily.

  1. Review job environment and satisfaction
  2. Develop our people first and motivate participation
  3. Demand leadership responsibility
  4. Develop new behavior patterns
  5. Promote lean thinking and insist on following the new methods and tools

I already discuss the first four, and today is the turn for the last one, Promote & Insist on Lean Methods/Tools. One of the leaderships’ responsibilities is to model the new behaviors, like the use of continuous improvement methods and tools.

We know that communication within a CI culture has to be clear, consistent, and collaborative.  The promotion of lean methods and tools need to have the same characteristics.  Leadership has to visit the value-creating area (gemba) every day, and while they are there, use the principles and tools that are appropriate for what they see.  One skill that lean practitioners learn over time is to identify and act upon those learning opportunities that present themselves while visiting the work areas.  Take advantage of every opportunity you can.  

Lean thinking is for every day, every time, in every department, by everybody.  This statement is true even when things are not going as expected.  During those times that things got worse instead of improving is critical to insist on using the CI principles and tools.  Why?  Because that is the moment that the non-believers and road-blockers are waiting for, the time when things are unacceptable and you, back-up from the new culture behavior.

The integrated use of tools like 5s, visual management, gemba walks, huddle meetings, and problem-solving using PDCA is the perfect vehicle to convey the clarity of purpose, transparency, and collaboration needed for a successful implementation.  They also promote standardization, focus on shared goals, effective communication, visualization of current vs. standard, learning, motivation, and engagement.  The best way to promote lean thinking is to accomplish your responsibilities as a leader.  Learning, teaching, and modeling the new behavior day in and day out is how you will do it.  Nobody is perfect, admitting that you don’t know and that you make mistakes is a way to show respect to your team and be a good leader. Show what to do and how to do it. Telling without showing will not be enough.

CI 101

What is your guide through your continuous improvement journey? Five basic rules to stay true to the Kaizen spirit.

Guiding Principles for Continuous Improvement

Continuous improvement (CI) or Kaizen is the daily practice of creating small changes using low-cost common-sense solutions.  To stay true to the CI spirit and be able to accomplish the goal of delivering customers high-quality value, on-time, and at the lowest possible cost, it is necessary to follow these basic rules.

  1. Create improvements with small daily changes.
  2. The team is the source for most of the improvement ideas.
  3. Incremental improvements are typically cost-effective.
  4. Employees take ownership of the daily improvement process.
  5. Constant feedback and reflection.

By definition, if you are following a continuous improvement program, everybody is pursuing perfection through small changes daily. Every day, everybody should be looking for at least one thing to improve or a problem to solve.  CI is part of everybody’s job, and every day people should be finding a way to correct what is wrong, or make a job easier, or eliminate some waste. These tasks require walking the place where value is created or gemba looking for whatever does not add value to the customer. Your objective is to make the process flow, and for that, you need to know your customer needs.

In a continuous improvement environment, management no longer practices command and control. Leadership does not generate all the ideas anymore. Now they empower their team by involving employees to share their concerns and suggestions and become part of the problem-solving process. Employees work daily with the company processes and know them better than anybody. For that reason, their feedback is valuable, should be seen as gold.

Because they know the processes so well, employees’ ideas are simple and effective solutions.  They are looking to simplify a process, eliminate or combine steps, or change the order, not in terms of adding things.  Leadership and engineers many times complicate things, thinking in high-cost technology solutions that require capital expense.

One of the biggest challenges for a supervisor is to make people change the way they do things.  Breaking with “that is the way we always have done it” is easier when the idea is coming from them.  As a result of involving the team in the daily problem-solving process, they will trust their skills and knowledge more and more.  Soon the team will take ownership of the daily improving process.  

Continuous improvement needs a strong, transparent, and effective communication system.  Communication needs to be clear, honest, consistent, and collaborative.  Open communication that flows both ways, providing constant feedback and reflection.  CI happens within a learning environment where feedback on how things are going and reflecting on the results are as important as clear instructions and expectations.

Follow the continuous improvement basic rules every day, and never stop improving!