Featured Product
This Week in Quality Digest Live
Quality Insider Features
Constance Noonan Hadley
The time has come to check whether the benefits of teamwork still outweigh the costs
Lily Chen
The cornerstone of cybersecurity
Jeremy L. Boerger
To keep your business running, you need visibility into your IT assets
Elizabeth Gasiorowski Denis
An inclusive approach to designing products and services guarantees accessibility to as many consumers as possible
Naresh Pandit
Enter the custom recovery plan

More Features

Quality Insider News
Sapphire XC will ship in late Q3 beginning with aerospace companies
Major ERP projects take six months longer than companies were told
Program inspires leaders to consider systems perspective for continuous improvement and innovation
Collaboration produces online software for collecting quality inspection data
Serving the needs of employers and educators
Powder reuse schemes affect medical device performance
MIT course focuses on the impact of increased longevity on systems and markets
Upgraded with blue laser technology
Delivers time, cost, and efficiency savings while streamlining compliance activity

More News

Mike Micklewright

Quality Insider

Why Did Training Within Industry Die in the United States?

Principles are principal.

Published: Tuesday, July 7, 2009 - 03:00

Mike Micklewright's pun of the month (we can only hope there is just one)

Question: When Potsie and Fonzie tried to trick Richie into handing over his date to Ralph Malph in exchange for a better looking girl, what did they call the deal?

Answer: A Ponzie scheme.

Training within industry (TWI) could easily die within your company, if your company structure, systems, and practices are not based on principles that will support and sustain the principles behind TWI. 

It’s time to evaluate and question your company’s principles before another good tool comes and goes. So, why did TWI go away the first time? 

TWI was born out of a crisis

The U.S. government created the TWI Service in August of 1940 as a means of supplying the Allied Powers with the arsenal to defeat Hitler’s forces. At this time, the United States was just exiting from the Great Depression. Unemployment was still high and production capability was low. Supervisors and lead men were in short supply because they were enlisting or being drafted into the military. The world was in a crisis, and yet most Americans didn't want to enter into the war because of their country's own weaknesses. 

The purpose of TWI was to increase productivity and allow the United States to become, as Franklin D. Roosevelt referred to it, the “arsenal of democracy.” This, he thought, would win the war, without ever having to enter the war. Of course, we did enter the war and by 1942, approximately 6,000 new workers were entering the U. S. work force every day to supply this required arsenal for all Allied forces, including that of the United States.1

In 1945, the crisis was over. The United States had the strongest and largest production facilities in the world, and the government disbanded the TWI Service when the war ended.

The companies had no incentive to keep to the ideals and practices of TWI, or at least they saw no incentive. After all, TWI was developed out of a crisis, not for internal reasons. TWI wasn't part of the company’s make-up. It wasn't based on the company’s principles and culture, rather it was based on the TWI Service’s principles—and the TWI Service was now disbanded. If companies had adopted these principles and the culture behind TWI, for the sake of their own profitability and long-term survival, then perhaps TWI would have survived within these organizations and would have existed to the present day without having to be reborn again as it currently is. 

TWI moves to the next crisis

The United States had exited from a crisis in 1945 and was at the top. Japan had exited World War II at the bottom. Japan was now in a state of crisis. Several members of Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s staff were intimately aware of the benefits of TWI and thought it would be beneficial to teach it to Japanese industry. However, they were not just interested in teaching the tools of TWI, but also the democratic principles behind TWI, such as “treat people as individuals.” There was an ulterior motive to what MacArthur wished to do. By helping the Japanese become more productive and improve its economy, it could also teach the principles of TWI and thus reestablish Japan as a democratic nation. 

Your company’s principles and practices vs. TWI’s

So what are your company’s principles? Many companies haven't determined their own principles, and yet this action should be done first. 

My motto is: “Principles first, culture second, practices third, Tools fourth!” 

Ideally, prior to learning the tools of lean, Six Sigma, ISO 9001, or TWI, a company should determine its principles, establish its culture, ensure that its business practices support both, and develop its own tools or find tools that support all of the above. 

If your company has already established its principles, do your company’s practices support these principles? Are your principles and practices aligned with the principles and practices of TWI? If not, TWI will die another death, at least in your company, in answer to the question in the headline of this article. 

So what are your company’s principles? That is up to your company to determine. I’ve always said that if you copy anything from Toyota, copy its principles, and then develop your own culture, practices, and tools.

As Thomas Jefferson put it: "Be flexible in style, but unwavering like a rock, in principle.”  

Your company could copy the 14 Principles of the Toyota Way as were so eloquently laid out in Jeffrey Liker’s book entitled The Toyota Way (McGraw Hill, 2003). 

Or, your company could copy the 14 Points for Management of W. Edwards Deming as were so descriptively defined in his blockbuster book, Out of the Crisis (The W. Edwards Deming Institute, 1982). After all, so much of what Toyota learned was from Deming.

When determining your company’s principles, it is important to understand that “principles” are fundamentally accepted rules of action or conduct that are generally inarguable depending on one’s purpose or goal, such as raising a family, playing a sport, or building a business. 

Stephen R. Covey, in his landmark book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (Simon and Schuster, 1989), wrote:

"Principles are guidelines for human conduct that are proven to have enduring, permanent value. They’re fundamental. They’re essentially unarguable because they are self-evident. One way to quickly grasp the self-evident nature of principles is to simply consider the absurdity of attempting to live an effective life based on their opposites. I doubt that anyone would seriously consider unfairness, deceit, baseness, uselessness, mediocrity, or degeneration to be a solid foundation for lasting happiness and success." 2  

There are many practices that one lives by that are in violation of principles. Practices in the business world can be in direct violation of good business principles. 

Many of the practices of Six Sigma management are directly in conflict with the principles of both lean and Deming. Examples include:

  • Having specialized "Belt" people resolve everyone’s problems rather than everyone being involved in problem resolution and continuous improvement
  • Setting goals for the total revenue of savings; the number of trained Black Belts; and the number of completed Six Sigma projects, rather than focusing on the process. The goal becomes the focus and not the improvement.
  • Focus on projects (continual improvement) versus everyday improvements (continuous improvement)
  • Achievement of 3.4 defects per million, which has little to do with improvement
  • Training in batches and wasteful training (using only a very small percentage of what is taught)
  • The "Belt" becoming the goal, not the knowledge


All of these inconsistencies between principles and practices lead an oxymoronic term: lean Six Sigma, and there have been plenty of morons who have bought into this. On the other hand, the principles behind lean and Deming are aligned with each other. 

Once you’ve determined your company’s principles, then as Thomas Jefferson said, “Be flexible in style, but unwavering like a rock, in principle.” 

Stick to your principles, but be flexible in style or tools. Ensure that all company practices and tools support these principles. 

What are the principles behind TWI?

If your company has already received some TWI training, this really should be an exercise to do with your people. It should be for your company to research and determine. It requires thought and it is a great time to reflect (hansei) on what is being taught and why. 

The following principles from other sources may give you some ideas as to what you and your company might determine are the principles behind TWI.

The two pillars of the Toyota Production System

Pillar 1: The respect and involvement of all people

Pillar 2: The constant focus on the elimination of waste


Toyota Way principles that are also TWI principles

Principle 5: Build a culture of stopping to fix problems, to get quality right the first time.

Principle 6: Standardized tasks are the foundation for continuous improvement and employee empowerment.

Principle 9: Grow leaders who thoroughly understand the work, live the philosophy, and teach it to others.  

Principle 10: Develop exceptional people and teams who follow your company’s philosophy.

Principle 12: Go and see for yourself, to thoroughly understand the actual situation (genchi genbutsu).

Principle 14: Become a learning organization through relentless reflection (hansei) and continuous improvement (kaizen).


Deming points that are also TWI principles

Point 5: Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service, to improve quality and productivity, and thus constantly decrease costs.

Point 6: Institute training on the job.

Point 7: Institute leadership. The aim of leadership should be to help people and machines and gadgets to do a better job.

Point 11a: Eliminate work standards (quotas) on the factory floor. Substitute leadership.

Point 12a: Remove barriers that rob the hourly worker of his right to pride of workmanship.

Point 13: Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement.


Internal pactices, that may not support TWI

The benefits of TWI, and lean itself, and all of its tools (i.e., 5S, value stream management, quick changeover, work cells, total productive maintenance, and TWI), will never be sustained within an organization unless the company adopts the principles, culture, and supporting practices behind lean. Principles, such as “respect and involvement of all of the people” and “process focus rather than department/objective/goal focus,” need to be in place.

In other words, if a culture of blame exists, and the practice of chastising, writting up, or giving poor evaluations to employees because of defects “they” caused is in effect, then lean improvements and TWI benefits will not be sustained, because the culture and practices do not support the principle of respecting the people.

Or, if a departmentally-focused culture exists and the practices of establishing departmental objectives and rewarding departments for meeting their own goals is in place, then lean improvements and TWI benefits will not be sustained because the culture and practices do not support the principle of process focus.

If your company has started down the path of TWI, it may die again, within your company, if the following practices are in place. These practices are symptoms of principles and a culture that are not aligned with the principles of TWI.

  • Performance evaluations
  • Employees being chastised, written up, or dinged for defective product (“operator error” causes)
  • Departmental objectives, organization, and focus
  • Hiding problems (from auditors and management)
  • Problem solving by Green Belts and Black Belts, not by the people
  • Egotistic management
  • Supervisors at all levels managing by numbers, rather than being “at” the process
  • No monitoring/watching of TWI training—no feedback on the process
  • Micromanagement style vs. leadership
  • Hiring kids out of college to be production supervisors
  • Supervisors not working the job for a extended period of time before training others
  • No TWI or any training during the last week of the month or year due to an order from above to ship as much as possible (short-term thinking)
  • Mass inspection by another department (quality control)
  • Buying materials, components, gages, tools, and equipment from the lowest bidder regardless of quality and total cost
  • Continual improvement activities (i.e., once a month kaizen events/blitzes) rather than continuous improvement activities (i.e., every day by every body)
  • Supervisors not ensuring standard work is being completed
  • Layoffs
  • Excluding certain people from improvement activities
  • Production quotas
  • No preventive maintenance of equipment
  • No allocation of training resources or time


What to do?

  • Have an outsider assess your organization on its principles, culture, and practices to determine strengths and weaknesses in supporting TWI and lean principles and practices. Report results.
  • Determine your company’s principles and proclaim them.
  • Develop/modify the culture and practices to support the principles.
  • Ensure that the tools used now, or in the future, support and align with the principles.
  • “Be flexible in style, but unwavering like a rock, in principle.”


You could have developed TWI.

How many times on a corrective action report have you seen the “root cause” of the problem as “poor training”? Normally the action taken as a result of this root cause is retraining, which of course, does nothing for the long term, and the problem reoccurs. Why? Because the system did not change. Essentially, a person was blamed again—the trainer. The action is to have the trainer train again, probably the exact same way she or he trained before. 

If a company had performed a good root cause analysis in the first place and kept asking why the training program was ineffective, it could have discovered that some of the root causes were:

  • No allocation of training resources and time because it’s not important.
  • Trainers not knowing how to train because there is no system.
  • Trainers don't see trainees do the job effectively.
  • Work instruction format is too complex.
  • Many trainees are learning disabled, dyslexic, or speak another language, and the written and verbal words are not enough to help them understand.
  • There is no training plan.
  • There is no follow-up plan.
  • Trainers are not held accountable for their training actions.
  • Trainers aren't given feedback.
  • Trainers only show how to do something once.
  • Trainees don't understand the importance of each major action because it is not recorded anywhere on the work instructions.


A TWI job instruction module addresses all of these root causes and does not blame the trainer or trainee.

Two very important points result from this article:

1. If your company had done root cause analysis well, you could have developed your own TWI process, and called it whatever you wanted to call it.

2. “Getting to the Root Causes of Problems” is perhaps the most important principle of all.

For more information on TWI, visit www.twinews.com.



1) Training Within Industry: The Foundation of Lean, by Donald A. Dinero (Productivity Press, 2005)

2) The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey (Simon and Schuster, 1989)


About The Author

Mike Micklewright’s picture

Mike Micklewright

Mike Micklewright has been teaching and facilitating quality and lean principles worldwide for more than 25 years. He specializes in creating lean and continuous improvement cultures, and has implemented continuous improvement systems and facilitated kaizen/Six Sigma events in hundreds of organizations in the aerospace, automotive, entertainment, manufacturing, food, healthcare, and warehousing industries. Micklewright is the U.S. director and senior consultant for Kaizen Institute. He has an engineering degree from the University of Illinois, and he is ASQ-certified as a Six Sigma Black Belt, quality auditor, quality engineer, manager of quality/operational excellence, and supply chain analyst.

Micklewright hosts a video training series by Kaizen Institute on integrating lean and quality management systems in order to reduce waste.


TWI - Not just a quick fix

In reading this article, I am happy to see the discussion of how TWI must be implemented in a company’s culture and practices, and not just as a quick fix during a recession.
We found this to be key in implementing TWI at short run injection molder Donnelly Custom Manufacturing Company. It is working because it fit so well with our established principles, culture and practices already in place.
We’ve found that TWI fosters improved quality and increased productivity by encouraging people to apply these tools to improve our processes in everything we do.
Implementing TWI with a pre-existing culture built around the importance of training and individual growth, coupled with management’s emphasis on process orientation and quality, lead to a rewarding experience with this and many other tools we’ve implemented over the years.
I would encourage any business, manufacturing or service, to take a look at adopting TWI practices to ensure their business and their employees are successful.

Sam Wagner, Director of Advanced Manufacturing
Donnelly Custom Manufacturing Company, Alexandria, MN

Great article!

Loved the article. It is a great reminder to us all of the need to have strong principles in our business and the importance of training. After reading this I am very proud to be working for a company that sees the importance of both of these!


Loved the article because it exposed me to something I was not familiar with and with the good links I found the great piece titled "The Roots of Lean" by Jim Huntzinger. I recommend this article to everyone not familiar with TWI.