Background: How Training Within Industry Works

Training Within Industry (TWI) allows you to reduce the number of managerial errors, establish mutual understanding and increase the level of competence of specialists on the job.

The technique is suitable for organizations of any type – from technology and financial to commercial and industrial. It helps to quickly train employees, build their interaction and business processes – both at the level of the entire company and for individual working groups. We will tell you about the history of the origin of the technique and the basic principles of TWI.

ThisisEngineering RAEng /
ThisisEngineering RAEng /

Matryoshka stories

It is believed that the approach was invented by Toyota’s top managers, but this is not the case.

They were indeed the first to introduce TWI in Japan, although it was brought there from the United States. The Americans used this method when scaling up military production in the first half of the 1940s, when massive retraining of workers was required to increase supplies to the Allies. But they tried out the principles behind Training Within Industry much earlier – during the First World War.

With their help, the United States achieved a tenfold increase in the number of skilled workers in the shipbuilding industry. Such a breakthrough for the Emergency Fleet Corporation, formed by the Shipping Committee (USSB), guaranteed the expertise of Charles Allen, Industrial Training Master.

His educational methodology for employees of enterprises was an algorithm of actions, consisting of four blocks: preparatory, presentation, applied and test (“Show. Tell. Do. Check”).

The first implied a thoughtful explanation of what and why will be presented to the student. The second is direct instruction. The third was to check the possibility of completing the task, and the fourth was needed for independent work and correcting shortcomings, followed by an explanation of the adjustments.

Allen clarified that the sequence had to be repeated over a long period of time so that plant workers had time to adapt. He recommended conducting personal preparatory conversations with each employee, instructing to be squeezed to a minimum, and if by the fourth stage of the algorithm the students could not complete the task, rebuild the entire educational process.

Allen presented his approach in the book “The Instructor, The Man, And The Job”- it was published in 1919. Twenty-one years later, his experience was used “four horsemen“, Supervising the production training service (TWI). For five years, they ensured the implementation of the methodology in 16.5 thousand organizations, and the service trained more than 1.6 million workers at enterprises.

By the end of the war, the volume of production of certain models of military equipment had tripled, and the cost of production had decreased by half. The deliveries to the Allies during the years of hostilities were unprecedented. These results were made possible by the riders adopting the methodology for retraining lower-level managers. Those, in turn, could independently build educational programs for enterprises, depending on the specialization of workers. The latter received much more attention from managers, could influence production processes and were able to implement instructions from above exactly as top management intended.

Bell Aircraft production line in New York /
Bell Aircraft production line in New York /

In 1945, the demand for military products declined, and with it the number of calls to Training Within Industry. It remained to train only those who were returning to enterprises from the front, but this could be done by local commissions. TWI was closed, but its experts immediately started exporting knowledge and brought the methodology to occupied Japan. There she was received with great enthusiasm. One of the first organizations to immediately implement TWI was Toyota.

Key to production

The authors of the final collection of Training Within Industry, released in 1945, emphasizedthat well-trained lower-level executives (managers or “supervisors”) are “key persons in the war production”, which is also true in relatively peaceful times. For effective transfer of knowledge and experience from managers to subordinates, the first is necessary explain what skills this will help – eg: “The ability to organize and train employees.” Any TWI training begins with this procedure.

Further training follows methods of instruction by Allen’s algorithm of four blocks. It is held the day after the introductory session and is explained to the supervisors how:

  • prepare subordinates for training (“today we will get acquainted with the TWI method”);

  • build the process of instructing them (“for this, read the reference habrpost”);

  • carry out a trial execution of the task (“after that everyone will tell what they learned”);

  • check and comment on the results (“we will analyze which of this and how to add”).

The intricacies of business relationships (the last item on the list) are given special attention. To prevent employees from sabotaging classes, managers are advised to be as discreet as possible when discussing even the most serious mistakes. In practice, trial attempts (clause 3) can be repeated up to four times, but the responsibility for the results of subordinates lies with their supervisor, who conducts the training. Therefore, it is important to identify the causes of difficulties and repeat the briefing from the beginning if there is a misunderstanding.

ThisisEngineering RAEng /
ThisisEngineering RAEng /

The next lesson is learning working methodsthat employees will use for task decomposition, self-analysis and improvement of business processes. As an example, we can cite a situation when a manager invites subordinates to describe the configuration of network equipment and, for each step, explain what to do, why it is important to perform exactly such manipulations and how to improve the process already adopted in the company.

In the fourth session of the TWI training, managers are taught “information hygiene” – how to communicate the results of their activities to employees, communicate the need for adjustments and track the consequences of changes. Also – to cope with complexities using ready-made action algorithms. This option is recommended to be used in controversial and emergency situations, when it is important to follow the procedure – for example, start with collecting facts, and only then figure out what to do and what specialists to involve to solve the problem.

The final block of training managers is needed to compare the current state of their subordinates with the level to which they are planned to be brought within a certain period – for example, a year. For ease of perception, managers can draw up a table with a list of employees (rows) and business processes (columns). It should note the effectiveness of specialists on a five-point scale for each of the processes where they are involved, and in the final column, comment general learning objectives for all subordinates.

The training of managers is not limited to this. Those who trained them monitor how managers act in the production environment, record their mistakes and make adjustments. Constant contact and the ability to ask questions and “check the clock” with mentors allows you to achieve results faster.


Allen’s approach was tested twice on a national scale, and a revised version of Training Within Industry was successfully exported abroad. In 1950s Japan, hundreds of instructors received TWI certifications. For several years, they trained tens of thousands of enterprise workers, and by the 1970s they became top managers of the largest corporations and developed their own methodologies for managing organizations and production.

Decomposition of tasks and other elements of Training Within Industry have become the basis of methods for continuous improvement of the quality of business processes “Kaizen»And Total Quality Management (TQM), and also – gave impetus to the development Lean concepts and had a decisive influence on production system Toyota. The large-scale use of such practices helped to form a special culture among Japanese industrialists, and already their experience again interested Western colleagues. So Allen’s ideas went to a new stage in their development.

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