Tips for Lean Managers

Job Instruction for Lean Transformation Leaders

By Jon Miller Updated on March 21st, 2019

The new book by David Meier and Jeffrey Liker titled Toyota Talent is full of nuggets. Perhaps the best thing I got out of the book is an explicit understanding of the four-step approach to teaching that is Job Instruction. Now I see how Job Instruction is built-in to how we have been taught to teach Lean transformation by the best of our teachers.

The four steps of Job Instruction, as described for teaching a task, are:

1. Prepare the student
2. Present the operation
3. Try out performance
4. Follow-up

Fairly straightforward. This is mirrored in the “learning by doing” approach of kaizen instruction, and indeed most any type of effective training. The Job Instruction method as developed through TWI (Training Within Industry) makes the process much more explicit and detailed, particularly with regard to how workers are taught tasks by supervisors and team leaders.

There is more to be said and written about this important topic at a later time, but the most striking thing was the parallel between the four steps of Job Instruction, which make for effective worker training, and how leaders of Lean transformation need to “instruct” their organization through major changes. The effective process for

Lean transformation is basically the same:

1. Prepare the organization – leadership education, awareness training, change management
2. Present the Lean operation – define vision, rules & principles, go see learning
3. Try out Lean management – model line, pilot projects, visual management of key points
4. Follow-up – self-audits, reflection (hansei), check back on progress

This may be simplified, but it is a sufficient conceptual model for Lean transformation leaders. Like many aspects of Lean (PDCA, 5S, scientific method) the idea of Job Instruction is internally consistent and can be applied not only to worker instruction but more broadly to organizational change and learning.

  1. Vic Duckarmenn

    July 5, 2007 - 12:42 pm

    The principle and process of problem solving remains throughout lean transformation in USAF. Our AFSO 21 Air Force SMART Operations remains true to WWII principles founded by Mr. Deming without a manufacturing bias but a “service” bias. Lean works for us with a focus on principle and process.

  2. Tim G

    February 12, 2021 - 2:00 am

    Good reflection. Most interested in the link you made from JI to lean transformation. Firstly I thought it’s not that simple …….but it is isn’t it! Prepare, present, try out and follow up. Thank you 👍

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