DOJO – Onboarding and training center

DOJO is a Japanese word that traditionally means a place where skills in martial arts are cultivated. From the perspective of lean production and management, a DOJO is a place where new company employees spend time developing the skills needed for specific jobs before starting in production areas. It can also be used as a place for gaining new qualifications.

DOJO centers can be small rooms where equipment and machines for training new employees are stored. In many production companies, DOJO rooms typically range from 60 to 120 square meters and are often located in the center of the production facility. At Toyota, where I spent many years developing leaders, our training center was huge. It covered over 3000 square meters and included hundreds of machines and production lines, all modern and equipped with the latest technologies.

The sole purpose of a DOJO for new employees is to train them as quickly and safely as possible so they can enter production and start working in the designated process area according to the specified quality and cycle time. In other words, they must know how to perform their job exactly as required. Often, when a company decides to establish a DOJO training center, new employees passing through it become better at their jobs after just a few months than employees who have been with the organization for years.

DOJO is part of the eight stages of the so-called onboarding process, starting from recruitment to certifying the employee as capable of working according to specified standards. One of the popular methods for training newly hired employees is called TWI – Training Within Industry.

TWI was developed in the United States during World War II when men went to war, and manufacturing plants began struggling with a lack of skilled workers. TWI aimed to efficiently employ new, inexperienced people in industrial jobs they had never encountered before, such as women or administrative staff. The TWI training program turned out to be a huge success.

At Toyota, we call TWI OJD – On the Job Development. OJD does not end when the employee leaves the DOJO. Every newly trained employee leaving the DOJO should have a personal trainer or mentor. The mentor’s task is to support, verify, and further develop the employee.

DOJO is a place where an employee learns the processes applicable in their workplace. It is not a place where they learn and develop an understanding of the organization’s values and principles. However, it is absolutely crucial for the DOJO trainer to demonstrate these values and principles during the training and skill development process. During DOJO training, the trainer can also assess which position the employee is most suitable for.

My advice to anyone managing a small, medium, or large company is not to leave training, skill enhancement, and development of new employees to chance. The better such an employee is introduced and trained, the greater the economic value you will achieve through their work. Naturally, this way, new employees will also feel much more comfortable and will settle into the organization faster. Another benefit of using an orderly form of onboarding and training new employees is reducing their turnover, often observed in a relatively short time after employment.

Mark Forkun