Lean Manufacturing and Training: A Look at “Training Within Industry”

Our customers are very interested in being more efficient. That’s why they come to us looking for help with their training programs. But of course training isn’t the only solution they look at to increase efficiency. As a result, many are interested in lean manufacturing principles, and so we’ve recently been running a series of articles on some basic lean concepts. For example, we’ve had articles introducing 5s/lean 6s, kaizen, and kaizen events, and we’ve even listed some ways you can use these lean tools to create a safer workplace.

In this article, we’re going to look at another aspect of lean manufacturing–Training Within Industry (TWI). Training Within Industry is the lean approach to training, has been used by Toyota and other manufacturers throughout the world for decades, and still has valuable lessons that can be put to use in training today.

We have also written separate articles about smaller parts of TWI, including the TWI Job Instruction program and the TWI Job Methods program.

Read on to learn more.

If you’re familiar with lean manufacturing but not with Training Within Industry, you may find this an interesting addition to the knowledge base. Plus something you can use to improve training at your workplace. If you’re familiar with modern instructional design or training theory, you’ll probably notice some interesting connections with TWI. For example, note the similarity between an ID’s task analysis and the TWI job breakdown, or note the similarity between Mayer’s multimedia principle and TWI’s take on showing and telling in training.

The information below is based on our recent reading of Training Within Industry: The Foundation of Lean by Donald A. Dinero (Productivity Press, 2005). The book is a great resource and a recommended read, so definitely consider checking it out. Our copy came with a CD-ROM that included all the TWI bullets issued by the United States War Department in the 1940s (read on to learn how that’s connected) as well. The book was a 2006 Shingo Prize Research Recipient and does a nice job of giving the history of TWI and explaining what it is and how to use it. If this article intrigues you, we highly recommend you purchase the book as well.

An Introduction to Training Within Industry (TWI)

Let’s start with some basic information about TWI, shall we?

What Is Training Within Industry?

Although Training Within Industry has been around for a long time and is used throughout the world, there are still many people who have never heard of it. It’s especially fallen under the radar in the United States.

That’s ironic, because TWI was created in the United States, by the US government, and for use by US manufacturers. The roots of TWI could be said to have originated in the US during WWI, when the United States needed to train 500,000 workers new to the shipbuilding industry. They did, many ships were built, the US and its allies won the won, and many lessons about effective workplace training were learned. But unfortunately, those lessons were largely ignored between World War I and World War II. (See note 1.)

The name “World War I” implies more that there were more world wars, and soon enough World War II came along. Again, the US found itself lacking skilled labor in key industries and needing to ramp up production for the war. As a result, the US government created the Training Within Industry Service in 1940. This organization created Training Within Industry (TWI), which you can think of as something like a “train the trainer” program for American businesses. The program was implemented at many American companies during the war, was successful, and was again largely forgotten in the United States after the war.

Dinero suggests a few reasons why the wide-scale use of TWI did not continue in America in his book. First, he notes that the US was the world’s economic powerhouse at the time (with the manufacturing base of many other countries destroyed by the way) and so simply wasn’t focused on increasing efficiency after WWII. Second, he suggests that at individual American companies where TWI had already been installed, changes were made here and there to the TWI training methods after the government TWI agency had been disbanded at the war’s end, leading to less effective results.

Training Within Industry Throughout the World

Although TWI was created in the US for American companies, since WWII its real stronghold has been outside of the US, and especially in Japan.

The United States introduced TWI to European and Asian countries after World War II as these countries struggled to rebuild their economies.

A 1993 white paper, quoted in Dinero’s book, lists 26 different countries where TWI was used: Great Britain, France, Italy, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, New Zealand, Australia, New Guinea, Hong Kong, Fiji, Taiwan, Singapore, Western Samoa, Iraq, Uganda, South Vietnam, Korea, Indonesia, Mexico, Turkey, and Nepal. (See note 3.)


TWI In Japan, Toyota (TPS), and Lean Manufacturing

It’s true that TWI was used throughout the world, but it was in Japan where TWI took roots most firmly. This is partly because members of General MacArthur’s staff were familiar with TWI and introduced it during the US occupation of Japan.

To quote the Robinson & Schroeder white paper quoted earlier, “While TWI had an impact on many coutnries around the world, it has its greatest effect on Japan, which embraced the “J” programs more wholeheartedly than any other nation.” (See note 4.)

And, in Dinero’s own words: “The Japanese did embrace TWI completely and are still using the programs today. In fact, the Japanese Labor Ministry still controls the use of TWI by administering programs and licesing other organizations to conduct “J” courses (author–we’ll explain the “J courses” soon). The dissemination of TWI throughout Japan is so widespread that it appears to have assimilated into the culture. Kaizen (kai = change, revise, and zen = goodness, virtue) (continuous improvement) is a term that is used in the Toyota Production System (TPS), which many companies are trying to emulate today as Lean Manufacturing….TWI was one of the early seminal forces in developing TPS and one could debate whether TPS could have fully evolved and been sustained without the practice of TWI.” (See note 5.)

The TWI Structure: Job Instruction (JI), Job Methods (JM), Job Relations (JR), and Program Development

Now that you know a little about the history of TWI, including its origin in wartime U.S., its adoption in multiple places throughout the world, the development of its stronghold in Japan, and its place as arguably “the foundation of lean” (the subtitle of Dinero’s book), let’s learn more about what TWI really is.

TWI has four parts, or programs. They are:

  • Job Instruction (JI) – A method for teaching workers to perform necessary job skills, with an emphasis on performing job correctly and safely, ramping up to productivity on the new skill(s) as quickly as possible, and reducing waste and damage.
  • Job Methods (JM) – Training workers how to improve the way their own jobs are performed, with an emphasis on increasing more quality products in less time using available manpower, materials, and machines.
  • Job Relations (JR) – 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.
  • Program Development (PD) -Training to solve production problems unique to specific organizations, with an emphasis on personal and training issues, while technical means were applied to other issues. (See note 6.)

Job Instruction, Job Methods, and Job Relations are commonly known as the “J” programs. The programs were meant to be adopted together, particularly the three “J” programs. The programs were designed so that government-paid TWI consultants would teach supervisors of a company the methods, and the supervisors would then adopt and use the methods at their own companies.

Job Instruction is the J program that is most specifically related to training workers to do their jobs, so that’s what we’ll focus on in the rest of this article. We’ll probably circle back and look at some of the other programs in future articles, so keep an eye out for that as well.



Additional FAQs about Training Within Industry

Hopefully you’ve found this introduction to Training Within Industry (TWI) helpful and interesting. There may very well be some tips you can use in that material in your own training program.

Remember to check out our articles the TWI Job Instruction program and the TWI Job Methods program.

In addition, we thought we’d pull together some information from Dinero’s book to present a bit of an ad-hoc TWI FAQ in case you’ve got some questions we didn’t address above.

Once again, we encourage you to pick up and read a copy of Training Within Industry: The Foundation of Lean by Donald A. Dinero (Productivity Press, 2005), the book that this article was based on. In addition, if you’d like to read similar material by Dinero online, here’s a short article he wrote for a Lean Solutions Conference.

Is TWI Just for Manufacturing?

No (and this goes for lean, too). Although TWI and lean are most commonly thought of in the context of manufacturing, they can be used in other work places as well. Even when the US government was running the TWI program in the US, and even though they were working to help defense contractors, they worked with companies in other industries, including transportation, hospitals, laundries, and more. The methods in TWI (and lean in general) can be applied in many different workplaces. (See note 13.)

What Were Four Goals of the TWI Developers?

To create a program that was simple, could be prepared in a small amount of time, that was based on “learning by doing,” and that could have a “multiplier effect,” so government TWI trainers could instruct supervisors/trainers from various companies and those trainers would then instruct others in the same technique. (See note 14.)

What Helped TWI Catch On in the US During World War II?

Results and data that proved those results. TWI was a voluntary program and businesses weren’t necessarily inclined to have the government telling them what to do. TWI officials quickly realized these businesses would be interested in TWI if they could prove that their methods were effective. Today, trainers know this as a Level 4 evaluation (in the Kirkpatrick model). (See note 15.)

What Are Some Ways That TWI Influenced Lean, Especially at Toyota?

Job Instruction is often seen as a root of Toyota’s standardization process and is still used there today; many believe that kaizen has its roots in TWI’s Job Methods program, and the Job Relations program is often said to be at the root of Toyota’s team and group leader structure. (See note 16.)

What Were Three Criteria the Creators of TWI Aimed for While Developing the TWI Program?

Simplicity, usability, and standardization. The desire for simplicity lead to a belief that trainers should work from a prepared manual or script and not freelance. The desire for usability included the belief that participants should practice as much as possible and should select problems from their work area to practice on. And the desire for standardization ran to issues concerning facilities (primarily ensuring trainers would have similar access to a blackboard), participants (getting trainees all trained to the same level of still/knowledge), and trainers (ensuring all trainers used same methods). (See note 17.)

Why Is It Called “Training Within Industry?”

The creators of Training Within Industry had some very specific things in mind when they named it. First, they chose the word “training” instead of “education” because training focuses on things that are good for a company’s production and education focuses on rounding out a person for general societal reasons. And they chose “within industry” because they wanted training to be conducted within an industry setting and to be lead by people in that given industry. (See note 18.)

According to TWI, What Are The Five Needs of a Supervisor?

According to TWI, an effective supervisor needs (1) knowledge of the work, (2) knowledge of work responsibilities, policies, agreements, etc., (3) skill in instruction, (4) skill in improving job methods, and (5) skill in leading. TWI’s three methods were intended to help supervisors develop skills in instruction (Job Instruction), skills in improving job methods (Job Methods), and skill in leading (Job Relations). (See note 19.)

What Were Three Objectives The Developers of TWI Had for Each TWI Program?

They wanted each program to (1) interest people to learn the method, (2) help people learn the method, and (3) get them to want to learn the method. (See note 20.)

What Is the Toyota Production System (TPS)?

The Toyota Production System is the management philosophy at Toyota. It permeates their culture, work processes, and training. The term lean manufacturing was coined in the 1990s to explain TPS.

What Is Lean Manufacturing?

“Lean manufacturing” is a term that was coined by and made popular by the authors of the 1991 book The Machine that Changed the World (James Womack, Daniel Jones, and Daniel Roos). The book was an attempt to explain the methods of Toyota and TPS. Over time, the meaning of the phrase shifts a bit, and in addition, forerunners of “lean” have been identified from before Toyota’s time (Eli Whitney, Deming, Ford, etc.).

Summary: Training Within Industry–the “Lean” Technique for Job Training

We hope you enjoyed our brief overview of TWI, Job Instruction, and a few of the nuts-and-bolts of Job Instruction. And we truly encourage you to (1) pick up a copy of Dinero’s book and (2) see which aspects of TWI you think you might be able to use at  your own workplace–or perhaps stay true to the TWI method and incorporate it in its entirely, as its creators intended.

If you’ve used TWI in the past or do now, please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below. We’d love to hear your take on this.

And don’t forget to keep an eye out for more articles on TWI and lean topics in general.



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1. Dinero, Donald A., Training Within Industry,  p. 21.

2. Dinero, p. 15.

3. Robinson & Schroeder, Training, Continuous Improvement, and Human Relations: The U.S. TWI Programs and the Japanese Management Style, as quoted in Dinero, pp. 42-43.

4. Robinson & Schroeder, Training, Continuous Improvement, and Human Relations: The U.S. TWI Programs and the Japanese Management Style, as quoted in Dinero, pp. 42-43.

5. Dinero, p. 47.

6. Dinero, pp. 3-4.

7. Dinero, p. 55.

8. Dinero, p. 168.

9. Dinero, p. 168.

10. Dinero, pp. 176-177.

11. Dinero, p. 97.

12. Dinero, pp. 167-168.

13. Dinero, p. 9.

14. Dinero, p. 11.

15. Dinero, pp. 34-40.

16. “Training Within Industry,” Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Training_Within_Industry. Accessed 7/28/2015. It’s worth noting that Dinero makes similar points in his book as well.

17. Dinero, pp. 67-81.

18. Dinero, p. 75.

19. Dinero, p. 77.




Jeffrey Dalto

Jeffrey Dalto

Jeffrey Dalto is an Instructional Designer and the Senior Learning & Development Specialist at Convergence Training. Jeff has worked in education/training for more than twenty years and in safety training for more than ten. You can follow Jeff at LinkedIn as well.

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