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KNOWBOT - TWI - Training Within Industry


TWI – How it started and is still Relevant

Training Within Industry (TWI), as a concept, was first introduced during World War-II by the US Government to fill the skills gap created in industry, due to the huge outflow of skilled workers who joined the armed forces. The basic idea of TWI was to enable leaders to create a second line of production workers, mainly people with minimum technical skills, to swiftly become as productive as their predecessors and to enable the US industry to cope with war-time production requirements.

In the post war era, as industries in the US boomed with an abundance of skilled workers, TWI programs were discontinued. But the success stories prompted the US Occupation Government to introduce TWI in Japan, to help the war-stricken nation to quickly rebuild its industrial capacity. Toyota was the earliest company to adopt TWI after WWII, and this sowed the seeds for the development of the Toyota Production System.

Even today, the TWI programs are widely used in Japan and have also found strong relevance in other parts of the world, because of its ability to achieve swift and sustainable gains in the operational excellence journey. Since the turn of the 21st century, US industry has re-adopted the TWI approach of enhancing the skills of its workforce. In this age of automation and Artificial Intelligence, when robots are taking over human jobs at a fast pace, the big question is whether a leadership training program, based on human-to-human interaction, can stay relevant?

Filippo Mantegazza in his article on Industry 4.0 says that the key meta-element behind successful progression is the ability of leaders to develop and manage a culture where people, digital and robots can be treated as a single entity. This implies that we clearly need a leadership development tool that can help facilitate this interaction and be successful in shaping the desired organization culture and human behavior. The TWI training approach fits the bill perfectly, as it does not just help to develop the skills required for leaders but can also be used as a fundamental principle for any human-to-digital interactions going forward.