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Kaizen Front Cover

Working With Others Training Program
by James S. Byron and Patricia V. Bierley





“I have used these training materials well into the hundreds of times...The impact of these simple skills still amazes me. ”
Reviewer Steve Burke, Plant Manager

I have used these training materials well into the hundreds of times either in part, as a whole, or as a complement to other training or problem solving meetings.

About two-thirds of the folks I've trained were truck drivers, operators, mechanics, and various field site management and administrative folks. The remaining training and problem solving meetings were with support staff (e.g., process safety engineers; field safety people; customer service people; logistics; driver trainers; home office administrative staff; site supervisors, engineers, and operators; regional support staffs).

The length of the classes depended on the purpose of the meeting. Usually the training has taken from six to eight hours. But when I use the training to effect team building, we spend about 1.5 days. Of course, in team building, we are applying the WWO skills to defining the team's goal, building a detailed team charter, and beginning the work of the team to accomplish its goal. When preparing others to facilitate teams, I spend two full days training the WWO skills and having the people practice using them to facilitate.

The training format is excellent. It provides an easy way to get participation and acquire active feedback from attendees. By midday the skills are in use in practice exercises and conversations among participants, as well as being applied to problem solving. Its fun to watch the progression that occurs in every group and identify the moment they "get it." That's the moment when they begin to demonstrate the skills without prompting.

The impact of these simple skills still amazes me. When I am in a meeting and the participants have not learned these skills, the sessions drag on looping around on the same issues, with everyone saying their piece but nobody connecting up with anyone. These meetings are unproductive, especially the problem solving meetings, as you cannot get any traction and forward progress because everyone is listening to him- or herself.

The feedback on the training from participants is consistently positive. My groups average around 95% positive reaction to the training. What is especially satisfying is the turnaround I always see. People come into the training expecting the "same old, same old" and, by the end of the day, they are transformed. They "get it" and most everyone is glad to have gotten it!

I am a believer in these skills and these materials allow you to learn, model, and teach the skills and use the skills in your work. My experience is that if you model the skills and adhere to the training materials as laid out, you will be successful.

As far as I am concerned, these skills should be taught in every setting where people depend on one another. I'm a parent, I coach high school football, and now I am a manager at work. In all my roles the skills help me be more effective.


“I have found the training and use of WWO skills the key ingredient in getting executives, managers, and operating level employees working together effectively.”
Reviewer Mark Reed, Global Continuous Improvement Manager, Air Products and Chemicals, Inc.

I am leading the process of rolling out our Continuous Improvement (CI) initiative to our businesses in Asia. My company has operations in eight Asian countries. Recently we conducted a CI event where we had representatives from all eight countries. The event was conducted in English; however, the primary language of the participants included Bahasa, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. One of my biggest concerns going into the event was how the communications would be with such a diverse team. Three of the participants had received the "Working With Others" training. At the beginning of the event I presented a quick overview for the entire team.

I was pleased to hear the participants "practicing" the skills several times during the event. The event was a huge success. We were able to merge eight different work process into one, were able to eliminate a great deal of waste, and were able to reduce costs in the target work process by 25% for a savings of $250,000 per year (not including the elimination of a great deal of work load on eighteen administrative personnel). The team worked very well together and communications was not an issue.

I have found the training and use of WWO skills the key ingredient in getting executives, managers, and operating level employees working together effectively. The materials are extremely flexible. I can tailor the training to the highest levels of leadership or to the person in the plant by simply switching out the examples used in the demonstrations and exercise to fit the group with whom I am working. It is equally as easy to modify the application activity so that I can sue the training to encompass team building and charter development, alignment of a business direction, analysis of our marketplace strategy, or the continuous improvement of operations at any level.


“By using constructive criticism, we were able to turn his negatives into a positive and kept the group together.”
Reviewer Mark Guy, Manager

The WWO skills are one of the best set of tools to help people communicate and understand each other. As a manager as well as a Kaizen Leader, using these skills has been very valuable to me. In fact, clarifying, confirming, hitchhiking and constructive criticism have been really important to me both at work and at home. Using the skills makes employees and even friends feel like their opinions count for something. And they do count for something with me, but without using the skills that message frequently did not get across. The skills let you understand what that person is really trying to say. In the past when I did not agree with something, that would just be the end of it. These skills do not allow me to continue to disagree without showing respect to the person by listening and trying to understand their viewpoints. The payback from using these skills is really special. The respect that people have for you grows and you feel more satisfied because the way you want to be is the way you are being.

I have found that each skill has its own special contribution. For example, hitchhiking on someone's idea is important because you are showing to that person that their idea was recognized and valued. Constructive criticism may be the most important. How you offer criticism, I think, really shows whether you care about the other person or just about making your point. That difference directly impacts your credibility as a manager or a party in any relationship.

At work, apart from my manager role, these skills have been extra valuable to me in conducting Kaizen events. I have had events when I had vice presidents, managers, and office and plant personnel all in the same meeting. Training the participants in these skills and having them use the skills with each other were important means to establishing a relaxed and open meeting where people felt as equals. The success of a Kaizen event depends on this. Constructive criticism really played a role in one of my Kaizen events. A plant manager was in our event along with several plant employees. He was negative to change ideas the employees had. By using constructive criticism, we were able to turn his negatives into a positive and kept the group together. We ended up with a great outcome. I urge everyone to learn these skills and use them on a daily basis. The training materials make it easy to do.


"The skills promote and elevate the level of respect and involvement in an organization..."
Reviewer Carolee Smith, Training Specialist

This is an excellent training course. The materials are relevant for all—from executives to hourly employees. The skills promote and elevate the level of respect and involvement in an organization while providing a valuable tool for folks to use to address outstanding work issues or challenges.

Across over 150 training events, I have trained managers, professionals and technicians, and administrative employees. Participants used their new skills to identify solutions to issues that they were currently facing such as “how do deal with organizational changes”, “lack of trust between management and employees”, “how to better run the business”, and “how to reduce costs”. The training sessions typically ran 6 to 8 hours depending on the number of participants and the issues they needed to tackle. Some sessions extended to a day and a half. The more complex issues required follow-up meetings which participants held on their own using their new skills. That reflects one of the true advantages of this program’s approach—you can shape its exercise content and length to address the current work priorities of the learners and they walk away with a capability they can immediately apply to improving their organization.

One of the biggest rewards I received as an instructor was experiencing how participants valued the skills that they acquired. I’ve run into participants months and even years after they’ve been in a session and they’ve told me “those skills made a difference” at their plants or departments.

Apart from improving the clarity and efficiency of getting and giving information, I think that one of the biggest benefits from using these skills is that they elevate the level of respect people demonstrate for each other. The skills help folks appreciate and value each other’s diversity. That appreciation gets felt and registered and seems to change the climate of the department. The skills also open people to a broader range of thinking and that seems to result in better solutions to problems.

I consistently conduct the feedback evaluation at the end of training. Participants, on average, rate satisfaction with the class at 8 on the 9-point scale.