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

A Factory of One

Applying Lean Principles to Banish Waste and Improve Your Personal Performance, 1st Edition

By Daniel Markovitz

Productivity Press

177 pages | 50 B/W Illus.

Shingo Award Winner
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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.


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

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





About the Author

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 dan@timebackmanagement.com or via Twitter @timeback.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Quality Control
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Industries / Manufacturing Industries
MEDICAL / Administration