Pull and Push are two different ways to trigger the start of a process step. In a Lean Pull system, the action is triggered when an item of the next process step is withdrawn: the consuming process withdraws the required quantity from the preceding process.

Put more simply: Your customer process takes one item of your product out, and this is what triggers you to produce one more product. In other words, the next adjacent process step is telling you: “Don’t call me just because you are ready. I will call YOU if I need more…”.


  • A part/batch taken away from the inventory after your process triggers the next production
  • An empty tray of parts from the next process step signals you to produce more
  • A signal that shows that a sample result is needed for the next production step triggers analysis just in time
  • Sales orders are processed to meet customer dates in time (in contrast to sequence of order)

Understanding the difference between Pull and Push is critical to creating Flow.

Learn more about this topic in our Lean Six Sigma Basics Online Course (Demo currently not available for Internet Explorer).