Tips for Lean Managers

Making Sense of Takt-Flow-Pull

By Jon Miller Published on July 10th, 2004

We’ve found that there’s a wall that’s people have to get past when learning to think Lean. Teaching the 7 Wastes and 5S as eliminating searching, motion, errors, (7W) etc. by reorganizing the work area and making it more visual (5S) strikes most people as ‘common sense’, and they get it.
People usually get that flow is a better way to work than start-stop or batch-and-queue. However, the trouble is that pulling one piece every takt time simply does not make sense to most people. It’s counterintuitive. How can doing one be more efficient than doing 10?
The basic tools of point of use and cellular layout can get you a long way, but the true breakthroughs in thinking and seeing opportunity only come when people start to pull one piece of work at takt time. Making sense of Takt-Flow-Pull starts with seeing and experiencing.
Rather than explaining using theory or examples, the best way is to demonstrate through a flow exercise (legos, paper airplanes, etc.). We have found that it’s best to tell people up front that Takt-Flow-Pull will seem wrong and will seem counterintuitive, but to have faith and to give it a try.

  1. Thomas Bellocci

    October 17, 2008 - 7:25 am

    Hello Jon,
    Could you create a new section in your blog, to give ideas of pratical games and exercises one can use to teach the fundamentals of Lean Manufacturing, and create real breakthroughs in thinking ?
    That would be very helpful.
    Thanks in advance.

  2. Jan Jochmann

    April 16, 2009 - 12:28 am

    Hello Jon
    I agree with Tom’s comment, I also think it would be a nice thing to have some kind of a “practical lean teaching” section in this excellent blog.
    Best regards

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