TWI Approach to Scooping Ice Cream


Following up my earlier post about instructions for scooping ice cream, and key points, a blog reader , Bryan Lund submitted this commentary. Click here to download a Word doc version of the “Job Breakdown Sheet” that he created for this discussion.


Job Breakdown Sheets, ala Training Within Industry Job Instruction, is the preferred format for standardized work. This has very little to do with appearance, company preferences, or in general, superficial preference, like whether you want pictorial instructions or not.

The primary purpose of the Job Breakdown Sheet is to serve as a trainer's aid during On the Job Training (OJT). Why? Because as experts in a job, we often forget the key points of a job: tricks (rolling not digging), quality points (tap off excess water) and safety. These are the key points that if properly communicated, are the backbone of a learning organization.

Sounds silly, but amazingly it works. Back to the format for a moment: By breaking down the job into important steps, key points, and reasons for key points….the trainer can build up the trainees knowledge by first showing the job using important steps only. The trainer then repeats the demonstration by showing the trainee important steps, but this time with key points. (Building knowledge and allows the trainee to remember steps and key points easily) The trainer then repeats with the reasons why we do the key points.

This is the most important part of the knowledge transfer, by communicating “why” we do things the way we do, the trainee now understands but is more readily accepting of the work. For example, the trainee now understands why customers are satisfied with a triple scoop that is rolled and not lopsided because you were “digging” instead of rolling. Instead of mumbling to herself, “why do I always have to keep this scoop in the water?” The trainee knows that the water is there to make rolling easier, which satisfies customers.

It all sounds simple enough, but the real trick is in using the sheet for the purposes of delivering good training, and this is extremely difficult because it requires patience, discipline and iron clad consistency. By delivering good training, we are preventing problems from occurring down the road. This is why training is a means to solve production problems.

I will be presenting at the TWI Summit in Orlando on June 5-6. Please register at and use promo code “lund” for a $50 discount off registration!

Bryan Lund, Energizer Battery Mfg.

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. Excellent work, Mark and Bryan! This may seem like a funny example (and it is), but it very “tastefully” (sorry, I had to do that) done and illustrates the importance of TWI as a foundational element not only to developing lean in an organization, but to the function of the organization. Learning is key, but perpetuating the learning, and the knowledge captured by the learning, is even more critical to long-term success. TWI is the skill to achieve this, and it helps to create the culture (behavior) to underscore this learning function. In time, it can help to transcend this thinking and behavior throughout an organization.

    Jim Huntzinger

  2. Ha ha Mark. Figures you would notice something like this! Trouble is, I would too and in fact I have already done a job breakdown on ice cream scooping in my head even though I have never been a “Chief Soda Jerk” (hey I am sensitive about the “jerk” part!).
    I would actually provide a bit more detail. In step 2 for example I think the key points are to center the scoop on the cone, and to press it lightly into the cone (so when the customer takes a lick it does not fall out!)
    Hmmm, I’m thinking that starting on the outside wall has more to do with container stability during the scooping motion. Start at the far side and push toward the center and there is less tipping? Plus if you only scoop from the center then the outsides get “gooey”- you know the freezer burn sort of- turns back to sugary goo stuff- when a bit of ice cream gets stranded on the edge by itself? The exposed portions do not stay fresh so it is necessary to “turn” the product properly.

    Honestly if we really think about things we realize that there are a fair number of important aspects of the work which are often overlooked or not understood. Analyzing for key points is a critical part of the work.

  3. Hi David,

    Great comments which get to the heart of sustaining lean improvements and engaging employees. The questions you ask should be part of a leader’s standard work routine. “What happen’s if you don’t press the scoop into the cone?” “How do you keep the bucket stable and hold the cone at the same time?” The answers to these questions, which can ONLY be done while directly OBSERVING the job, lead to the development of a problem consciousness in your people. Unfortunately today, we are taught to write up the method on a sheet of paper, and “tell” the person that “they” are accountable for meeting the standard. The problem with this approach is that many of these instructions are written from behind a desk, from memory and a spec that has very little to do with best methods in safety, quality and craftsmanship. My question to the group would be, “In your current company, what would the paperwork trail look like for “scooping ice cream”?


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