A Factory of One : Applying Lean Principles to Banish Waste and Improve Your Personal Performance book cover
1st Edition

A Factory of One
Applying Lean Principles to Banish Waste and Improve Your Personal Performance

ISBN 9781439859933
Published December 13, 2011 by Productivity Press
184 Pages 50 B/W Illustrations


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Book Description

Most business readers have heard of the Lean principles developed for factories—a set of tools and ideas that have enabled companies to dramatically boost quality by reducing waste and errors—producing more while using less. Yet until now, few have recognized how relevant these powerful ideas are to individuals and their daily work. Every person at a desk, drafting table, workstation, or operating table must (like a factory) deal with the challenge of reducing the waste that creeps into their work. The same Lean principles that have improved efficiencies on the factory floor can be just as powerful—in fact, far more so—in helping individuals boost personal performance.

Winner of a 2013 Shingo Research and Professional Publication Award!

A Factory of One: Applying Lean Principles to Banish Waste and Improve Your Personal Performance describes how you can foster a new mindset and improve your performance by applying Lean methods to your work. It translates powerful Lean tools such as visual management, flow, pull, 5S, and kaizen to your daily work, revealing how they can help to improve efficiency, reduce waste, and link you ever more closely to customer value. This practice will help you develop better self-awareness, more disciplined problem-solving skills, and the ability to self-correct errors.

This book not only provides the tools, but also teaches you how to find the root causes underlying your inefficiencies so you can eliminate them permanently. It will enable you to immediately improve personal productivity while developing the skills needed for continuous improvement. It includes real-world examples that illustrate how these principles have been successfully applied across a range of industries. Providing the perfect mix of what-to-do with why-to-do it, the text details a step-by-step approach to applying Lean principles to your work.

Listen to what Daniel Markovitz has to say about his new book, A Factory of One.

Part One Part Two

View the book's website at www.afactoryofone.com.

View the author’s website at www.timebackmanagement.com.

Table of Contents

What’s Your Job?
Why Is It So Tough to Create Value?
What the Heck Is Your Work, Anyway?
Going to the Gemba
What’s It All About?
Next Steps

Spotting Value, Spotting Waste
Allison’s Story
Introducing 5S
What Is Information 5S?
A Lesson from the Chefs
Applying 5S to Information
The $14 Million Check
The Desktop
The Absurdity of Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Frequency-Based Organization
But First
Translating the Concept to Electronics
E-mail: The Problem Child
Back to Allison
Systemic Information 5S
Remember, It’s a Means to an End
Next Steps

Daily Work Processes
Routine Work: Your Job Requires More than Just Creative Genius (Unfortunately)
Transforming the Creative into the Transactional
Next Steps

Visual Management
What Is Visual Management?
The Irony of Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Why All Those To-Do Lists Don’t Work
Living in the Calendar
The Calendar as Kanban
The Calendar and the Task Pad
Caution: Don’t Treat Your Calendar Like Your Gas Tank
The Old Movies Had It Right
Sometimes a Little Inventory Is Okay
Of Course, Life Never Goes According to Plan
Assessing Personal Production Capacity
But, What If You’re Allergic to Calendars?
The Simpler Method: The Personal Kanban
Four Easy Steps
The Incredibly Flexible Kanban
Other Types of Visual Management
Reflexive versus Cognitive Systems
Reducing Ambiguity
Next Steps

From Bad to Good, and From Good to Great
Like an Air Traffic Controller
The Twin Pillars of Kaizen
Standardized Work
Creative Types Need Standard Work, Too
Creating Mental Capacity for Improvement
Now, It’s Your Turn: Step 1
What Is Your Problem? Your Real Problem?
Five Whys
Your Turn: Step 2
Implementing Improvement: A3 Thinking
Continuous Improvement


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Daniel Markovitz is president of TimeBack Management (www.timebackmanagement.com), a consulting firm that radically improves individual and team performance by identifying and eliminating root cause impediments to productivity. He is a faculty member at the Lean Enterprise Institute and teaches at the Stanford University Continuing Studies Program. He also leads a problem solving workshop at the Ohio State University’s Fisher School of Business. 

Dan lived in Japan for four years and is fluent in Japanese. He’s also an avid distance runner, an enthusiastic (but somewhat tentative) cyclist, and a determined (if slow) swimmer. He holds an MBA from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. You can reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @timeback.


Dan Markovitz brings a thoughtful and supremely practical perspective to the fundamental scarcity faced by us all: time. His approach blends conceptual frameworks and concrete specifics—a powerful and useful combination—to reduce the noise and clutter in our lives and work. Markovitz can help us all to be more effective!
—Jim Collins, author of Good to Great and co-author of Built to Last and Great by Choice

No matter what your role is in your company, or whether you're an independent consultant or even unemployed, you will love Dan Markovitz's new book, A Factory of One. This gem will improve even the most efficient person's work life in powerful ways. The introduction alone got me motivated to adopt those practices that he writes and aren't yet part of my standard work. ... It's short, sweet, and to the point. You're never left wanting more, but you never wish the author would get on with it. ... relates powerful Lean manufacturing tools such as visual management, flow, pull, 5S, and kaizen to daily work, revealing how they improve efficiency, reduce waste, and link the individual worker ever more closely to customer value. This practice helps business professionals develop greater self-awareness, more disciplined problem-solving skills, and a heightened ability to self-correct errors.Read Dan's book--and then apply the tips he gives.
—Karen Martin, Principal, Karen Martin & Associates; and keynote speaker, ASQ Lean and Six Sigma Conference 2012