The Training Within Industry (TWI) Job Instruction Program (JI)



TWI is a training program that was created by the U.S. government during World War II. In the long-term analysis, however, TWI was more influential overseas than it was in the U.S. In particular, it really caught on in Japan, and it could be said that TWI was one of the things at the roots of the Japanese lean manufacturing revolution.

In this post, we're going to take a closer look at the Job Instruction (JI) program.

If you're interested in Training Within Industry (TWI), you might also find these posts about TWI interesting:

And for more on Lean Manufacturing, try these:

The Training Within Industry "J Programs" and "PD"

Training Within Industry, also known as TWI, isn't a single program.

Instead, there are four TWI programs or components that are intended to be used together for a more comprehensive workforce development solution. These four are:

  • Job Instruction
  • Job Methods
  • Job Relations
  • Program Development

Job Instruction, Job Methods, and Job Relations are frequently referred to as the "J Programs."

In this article, we're going to focus on the Job Instruction program, but we'll give you a quick overview of all four before we zero in on Job Instruction.

Click here to read more about Training Within Industry (TWI).

Job Instruction (JI)

This is 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)

This is a method for training workers 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.

Click here to read more about the TWI Job Methods program.

Job Relations (JR)

This 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.

Program Development (PD)

The focus here is training to solve production problems unique to specific organizations, with an emphasis on personal and training issues, while technical means are applied to other issues.

The TWI Job Instruction (JI) Program: Teaching Workers Job Skills Quickly and Effectively

In the Shingo-award winning book Training Within Industry: The Foundation of Lean by Donald A. Dinero, Dinero explains that many companies train new hires (or current employees who need to learn new skills) by pairing the worker with a more experienced worker who already has the desired skill. This is still a commonly seen training method in American companies, and is often referred to as "shadowing," "following," or "go follow Joe." You're no doubt familiar with these kind of programs.

There are times when shadowing programs like this can work, either wholly or partially. However, these programs are often ineffective for several reasons. First, the experienced worker often has to take the training chore on in addition to his or her standard work responsibilities. This can create stress and frustration. Second, the experienced worker may be very skilled but may have no particular knowledge of how to effectively train someone. For example, not every baseball All-Star can teach novices how to bat or field. And third, these shadowing programs often lead to a lack of a standard method for performing the job skills, with each trainer teaching his or her own version.

Dinero notes that "JI Training results in standardized instruction and standardized instruction results in standardized methods...the JI training is such that a person learns the job correctly and safely in the shortest amount of time possible. This reduces waste in time, material, and damage to tools and equipment. Proper training with the resulting standardization will help an organization change its culture." (See note 1.)

Teaching the Job Instruction Method to Trainers

TWI and the Job Instruction program can be thought of as a "train the trainer" kind of program. So, as we continue to explain the basics of Job Instruction, we'll be focusing on the training method a TWI trainer would teach to a supervisor/trainer who works at a specific company.

Now, we'll learn what those would-be trainers would learn to do in order to prepare for the time when they will teach their own employees specific job skills. This can be broken down into four steps:

  • Create a training timetable - Determine the skills your workers need and determine which workers already possess each skill. Keep this information in some form of checklist or matrix. Identify which workers need to learn new skills and the date by which you want the workers to learn those skills.
  • Break down the job into important steps and key points - The trainer will "break down" each job into the smaller steps that make it up. The reason for doing this is so that instruction can be developed for performing each step and therefore the job as a whole. Note that the job is broken down into steps and key points. This is an important part of the TWI method and will be explained in more detail later in this article.
  • Prepare equipment, materials, and supplies for training - Get all training materials ready in advance.
  • Arrange the workplace properly - Have workplace arranged the way worker should keep it (until a Job-Methods related improvement comes along).

Breaking Down the Job Into Steps and Key Points for Job Instruction (JI)

The process of breaking down a job into its smaller steps and identifying key points is at the heart of the Job Instruction method.

The JI "Job Breakdown Sheet (JBS)" is used to break the job down (you can find an example on page 168 in Dinero's book). It's essentially a three-columned table, with the three columns including the information below:

  • Important Steps (of the job) - What to do to perform the job, listed in step-by-step order
  • Key Points - Key points for how to do each step. There are three criteria for including something as a key step. First, if the information in the key point "make or break" the job. Second, if the information addresses a safety issue that could harm the worker. And third, if the information makes the job easier.
  • Reasons - Why the step is important (this is a more recent addition to the original two points above).

Here's an example of a JI Job Breakdown Sheet taken directly from Dinero's book (see note 2). It's an explanation of how to tie a fire underwriter's knot. This is a TWI standard and was in fact the example used in TWI training sessions. (See note 3.)


Dinero goes on to make a couple more points. First, because you should tailor your training to your individual learners, you may end up creating different a different Job Breakdown Sheet (JBS) for more-experienced workers than you would for less-experienced workers. That's because the more-experienced worker may know how to do something like "start the machine" but a less-experienced or novice worker may need step-by-step instruction to start the machine in addition. (See note 4.)

And second, trainers at one company should compare their JBSs and create one standard version, so all employees are being taught the same thing.

And third, as Dinero mentions frequently throughout the book, the Job Methods program (in which employees constantly look for new and better ways to perform their jobs) creates the possibility that JBSs will need to be changed over time.

Teaching Instructors to Instruct with the TWI Job Instruction Method

Once the job has been broken down into steps, key points, and reasons, and the Job Breakdown Sheet has been created, it's time for the trainer/supervisor to teach employees the job task. As mentioned above, during TWI training sessions (in which a training consultant teaches the TWI method to other trainers, who will then use that method to teach their own employees real job tasks), the first demonstration that's used is how to tie a fire underwriter's knot.

But regardless of the job you're trying to train a worker to perform, JI lists the following four "how to instruct" steps. These steps were printed on a small wallet-sized card and handed out to TWI trainees as well.

  • Step 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, and make sure the worker is in the correct position (sitting, standing, etc.) to learn the job. [Readers with a training or instructional design background may recognize some of Gagne's first Events of Instruction here.]
  • Step 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. [Readers with a training or instructional design background may recognize some aspects of "chunking" here.]
  • Step 3, Try out Performance - Have the employee do the job, step-by-step; correct any errors as they come up; have 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. [Readers with a training or instructional design background may recognize some aspects of active learning and adult learning principles here.]
  • Step 4, Follow Up - Release worker from training and back to work; make sure worker knows who to go to for help; check in with worker often, see how things are going, observe performance, encourage questions; eventually taper off the follow-up as you're convinced worker has mastered the job skill. (See note 5.)

The Job Instruction Method of Presenting the Job/Operation to the Worker

You just learned the four basic steps of teaching a worker a job in the Job Instruction method: prepare the worker, present the operation; (let the worker) try out the performance; and follow up. But the Job Instruction method is pretty strict about how to present the operation--meaning, how to show the worker the steps of the job--so let's look at that in more detail now.

  1. First, tell the worker how many steps there are in the job. This gives him or her a chance to prepare and begins to place the job into a mental "framework" for the worker.
  2. Next, demonstrate the job, step-by-step. As you demonstrate each step, state the step. For example, in step 1 of the knot-tying exercise listed above, the trainer would untwist and straighten the wire and say "untwist and straighten the wire." Do this for each step in the job.
  3. Next, demonstrate the entire job again. This time, while performing each step, say what the step is but also state any key point for that step. Again, as an example, in step 1 of the knot-tying exercise, the trainer would untwist and straighten the wire and say "untwist and straighten the wire" and then say something like "the wire should be untwisted about 6 inches from the end." Do this for each step in the job.
  4. Demonstrate the entire job again. This time show every step and state each step, key point, and reason.
  5. Pay attention to the worker. For a simpler task, three demonstrations is probably enough. For a more complicated task, you may have to do it more. Once you believe the worker is ready, let the worker try to perform the task. (See note 6.)

The Job Instruction Method of Letting the Worker Practice the Job/Task

Just as Job Instruction has a specific method of having the instructor demonstrate the job to the worker, there's also a specific method in which the worker should perform the job and demonstrate that he/she can perform it during the training. Those steps are:

  1. Have the worker complete the task on his/her own. Worker should be silent while doing the task the first time. The trainer should watch the worker closely and quickly stop the process if the worker is doing something wrong, providing helpful feedback to get the worker back on track if that happens (this is true every time the worker performs the task).
  2. Once the worker has done the task silently without error, have worker perform the task again, this time stating each step as he/she proceeds.
  3. Next, have the worker perform the task again, this time stating each step and each key point.
  4. And next, have the worker perform the task again, this time stating each step, key point, and reason.
  5. The instructor will observe the worker and, when instructor is satisfied that the worker has mastered the skill, end training for the worker and let the worker perform the task on the job (with appropriate follow-up in the field, of course).

Update Job Instruction With Digital Tools

One way to make the job instruction program more efficient is to use digital tools and mobile devices like the one shown below.

Click to read more about mobile training apps.

Conclusion: The TWI Job Instruction (JI) Method

We'd like to know if you're familiar with, and have used, TWI and/or the Job Instruction (JI) method before. If you have, please leave your comments below.

You may be curious if there are any technological tools that could help to teach procedures to workers in the way that JI does. If so, you may find this article on teaching procedures/using checklists interesting, and you may be interested in learning more about the Convergence Training learning management systems (LMSs) and their "tasklists."

Remember that this blog post was the second in a series, and that the series began with a general article about Training Within Industry that you may find interesting. And keep your eyes out for additional articles about Job Relations (JR), Job Methods (JM), and Program Development (PD).


1. Dinero, Donald A., Training Within Industry, p. 55.

2. Dinero, p. 168.

3. Dinero, p. 168.

4. Dinero, pp. 176-177.

5. Dinero, p. 97.

6. Dinero, pp. 167-168.

7. Dinero, p. 9.

8. Dinero, p. 11.

9. Dinero, pp. 34-40.


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