In the April 2017 issue, I wrote about feeding your production and engineering processes based on “pull-thinking” rather
than how typically work is pushed from
one process to another when the internal supplier has it ready rather than
when the internal customer is ready
to receive it. If you missed that article
please search the FDMC archives. It
will be helpful to tie it with this one
to understand more about why pull
is important and how you can set the
stage for it to work successfully at your
As a business owner or leader, the
first thing to recognize is that you are
not in control of your production; your
When you accept the customer’s
order, you put them in control of the
material you stock, the equipment you
use, the personnel who will be involved
in transforming their product to their
desired state, and when the product is
to be delivered.
The only thing you control is when
these requirements will be launched,
and if you miss that target date, you
stand a chance of messing up delivery
to one or more customers. That is not a
position that your company can afford
to be in too many times and remain in
A successful space flight depends
almost entirely on the timing of the
launch and conditions at the launch
site. Delivering a quality product to the
customer on-time every time is also
dependent on timing and conditions at
the launch site.
Timing is a matter of planning.
Conditions are a matter of training of
personnel, readiness of equipment,
Most companies that we work with
employ the standard practice of inject-
ing work into the production pipeline
when the first process step needs work.
Since the first step is the most visible,
it becomes the squeaky wheel that gets
The perception seems to be that the
by Jim Lewis
email@example.com LEAN JOURNEYS
The customer sets the pace
It’s really your customers who are in control of your production.
✚ Want more? Read archived Jim Lewis columns at
Jim Lewis has worked in the furniture industry for 40 years
with a special emphasis on facilitating the transformation
process for businesses embracing the Lean Business Model.
He founded The Center for Lean Learning, which is now
headquartered in St. Thomas, ON, Canada, and led by
Brad Cairns. Lewis is still active as a consultant for the firm.
All sorts of work in progress clogs the shop floor at Distinctive Custom Cabinetry
before they began their lean journey.