Transforming culture, companies turn to Training Within Industry
TWI is helping small manufacturers transform and sustain improvement
reprinted with permission from Enterprise Minnesota's eTrends newsletter
When a workplace issue comes up during a regular meeting of company supervisors at
Engel Diversified Industries, someone invariably asks, "Do we have all of the facts?"
For this Jordan-based company, known by the three letters EDi, that simple question is part of a systematic process to manage and sustain their company culture and worker relationships through incorporating the methods of Training Within Industry(TWI).
"When you talk about fuzzy things like workplace relationships, [TWI] puts science behind what most people view as an art," says EDi president Don Hayward.
Just like asking a question during a meeting at EDi, companies that implement TWI develop a decision making process to utilize on a daily basis. "That question came from how TWI tells us to approach things," Hayward said.
Which is one reason TWI has become a tool for managing continuous improvement in companies across the state.
TWI consists of four modules - Job Methods, Job Relations, Job Instruction, and Job Safety - that help companies maintain culture change and company improvement.
But perhaps the word training in TWI is a misnomer says Enterprise Minnesota business specialist Samuel Gould, because it is actually a method to incorporate in day-to-day activities, not a one-time classroom experience.
"If a boxer isn't fighting in the ring, they're getting ready for the next bout," Gould said. "We might call it training still, but it's actually an ongoing activity."
A key is to teach employees a skill set to recognize problems, understand that there is a process to develop a solution, and empower them to take action. More importantly, says Gould, is recognizing problems before they occur, which is another fundamental goal of TWI.
"TWI is a tool to transform company culture into one of prevention, continuous improvement, and bias for action," Gould said. "It's about managing change and sustaining improvements."
Innova Industries in Fergus Falls turned to TWI to manage their culture through a period of tremendous growth. Over five years, the company expanded from 25 to 70 employees, but needed a method to help new supervisory roles adjust and manage culture throughout the changes.
"Our most important positions are leads and supervisors," says Innova production manager Roger Cullen. "TWI is such a basic process that someone new to supervising learns the tools to do their job. It's a fundamental way organizing and breaking down challenges."
Now, Innova has incorporated TWI into job expectations. Cullen says that the company has a system and accountability for managing their people. Supervisors follow a learned process to identify potential issues, address problems, and document the entire thing.
It has all resulted in better relations and employees doing their job better, allowing Innova to jump a common hurdle among companies their size.
"One of the biggest challenges for a company is to find solutions, and [TWI] gives you the tools to find solutions."