One of the properties of a system designed according to the principles of lean thinking (Rule 4). Pull recognises that the people best placed to deal with a complex task are those who are doing it—who are engaged with the practical detail. Once the intention (or common purpose) is defined, participants do not need forever to rely on instructions; they can respond to actual local circumstance, guided and pulled along by observation, rather than pushed through in response to rules or general principles, or a regulatory agency that claims a monopoly on decision-making.

In the context of the energy descent, for instance, that means that the Government is freed from the task of having to micromanage the energy transition with detailed regulations; instead, it can call on the biggest intellectual energy source available to our society: the creative intelligence of the people (TEQs). Pull means that people are allowed to switch on their brains—responding to a challenge on its own terms, and building on their local wisdom as to the needs of a particular time and place. In a pull-system, the people involved apply their creative intelligence to pull answers out of the situation; they invent solutions; they discover ways forward which management does not have to work out for itself.

In this context, aims can be defined without any reliable knowledge of how they are to be achieved, or even whether they are achievable, for pull can enable the creative discovery of means which are at present unknown or out of sight and which, when they are invented or revealed, may surprise. The principle of pull is a political philosophy, and it is at the heart of the Wheel of Life.

An inefficient, high-cost organisation will remain inefficient and high-cost so long as it is based on the principle of push. It is impossible to reform: like herding cats, it provides constant reasons for reform and correction, but it does not get anywhere. The paradigm change from push to pull opens the way to improvement beyond recognition.P117


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David Fleming
Dr David Fleming (2 January 1940 – 29 November 2010) was a cultural historian and economist, based in London, England. He was among the first to reveal the possibility of peak oil's approach and invented the influential TEQs scheme, designed to address this and climate change. He was also a pioneer of post-growth economics, and a significant figure in the development of the UK Green Party, the Transition Towns movement and the New Economics Foundation, as well as a Chairman of the Soil Association. His wide-ranging independent analysis culminated in two critically acclaimed books, 'Lean Logic' and 'Surviving the Future', published posthumously in 2016. These in turn inspired the 2020 launches of both BAFTA-winning director Peter Armstrong's feature film about Fleming's perspective and legacy - 'The Sequel: What Will Follow Our Troubled Civilisation?' - and Sterling College's unique 'Surviving the Future: Conversations for Our Time' online courses. For more information on all of the above, including Lean Logic, click the little globe below!

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