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FLOW when you can; PULL when you cannot flow, but never PUSH!


Lean is a socio-technical system. I love the development of people. This is rewarding to see the modest impact of my training and coaching on staff and leaders to see problems, solve problems, coach for problem-solving, and cascade those capabilities to other individuals. This is the social part.


I also enjoy the technical part of Lean. For example, the synchronization of material, information, and people flows. This is where the pull systems, including Kanban systems, take place. Kanban systems are not something new, but many organizations have not seized the opportunity of pull systems to reduce the total cost of supplies. As opposed to actual supermarkets with binary signals, many healthcare and manufacturing organizations manage their "supermarkets" with push systems or like a warehouse.


When we cannot flow products, due to distance, changeovers, or other situations, we should pull, but never push. Pull systems exist in many forms. They range from the most common and simple move Kanban (the 2-bin system) to the most elaborated make-part Kanban with product families to strike the right balance between inventory carryover and changeovers. At the end of the day, this is a combination of math (including variation and risk analysis), visual management, and of course people.


The attached picture, taken years ago in one of my past organizations, is an example of the socio-technical aspect of Kanban at a break press: a make-part Kanban organized by product families and an operator smiling because we eliminated expediting, backorders, and overtime!

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