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A Factory of One: Applying Lean Principles to Banish Waste and Improve Your Personal Performance Paperback – December 13, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-1439859933 ISBN-10: 1439859930 Edition: 1st

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A Factory of One: Applying Lean Principles to Banish Waste and Improve Your Personal Performance + Personal Kanban: Mapping Work | Navigating Life + Getting Results the Agile Way: A Personal Results System for Work and Life
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 177 pages
  • Publisher: Productivity Press; 1 edition (December 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439859930
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439859933
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #82,819 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


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

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.

More About the Author

Dan is the founder and owner of TimeBack Management, a consultancy specializing in improving individual and organizational performance through the application of lean concepts.

Although he's lost much of his hair by now (punishment for looking like a hippie in the '70s) he's fortunate to still be devilishly handsome. . . and married to a woman who's okay with male pattern baldness.

Dan splits his time monthly between a small town just north of San Francisco and Manhattan. Sadly, his cat Pixel isn't able to travel with him.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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I found it very useful and well written.
Dan does a great job of showing normal human beings how to benefit from lean thinking.
Jill Konrath
I hope you enjoy reading (and thinking about) this book as much as I did!
Jason W. Womack

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Jason W. Womack on December 26, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Traditional Work: How you work is probably how you worked.

When I looked at that line in my notebook (after reading Daniel Markowitz's book, A Factory of One) I thought about the busy-ness that many people talk about as they relate to their workday. As you consider what you get done in a typical 8 or 10 or 15-hour shift, do you stop to consider HOW you get that work done?

Over the 145 pages of this well-written - and well-documented - book Dan shows very specific methods you can use to apply "Lean Principles" (traditionally reserved for manufacturing and production lines to remove wasted movements thereby increasing overall productivity) to the "Knowledge Work" that keeps so many of us busy and focused on working overtime.

I was pleased to see Dan write about Parkinson's Law of work: Namely, that the work you have will generally fill the time you have available to do that work. If something is due in a week, it'll take about a week. If it's due later today, well you get the point.

The point of applying Lean Principles to improve personal performance is two-fold:

1. Create a flow of working: so that once you get there, you stay there and produce something (a thought, a product, etc) of value
2. Reduce the stress of wasted movements to focus on more meaningful activity

If you're thinking of getting this book, here's just one of the themes you can expect to explore while you're reading:

Dan asks you to define your "value;" the value of your service or product to the market. Once you've identified that value, then you can work on making things as efficient as possible in order to make that value available to those that matter: clients, community, organization, family, friends, etc.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Joe Dager on January 9, 2012
Format: Paperback
These concepts will be very familiar to people familiar with continuous improvement and more specifically Lean and Six Sigma. However, you do not have to be a practitioner to understand or read the book. When trade terms are used they are explained in simple everyday language without losing a beat. The author demonstrates an in depth knowledge of the Lean Principles. There may be others with his depth of knowledge but I have seen few transfer it into such simple, practical and useable terms. I found myself reading a "how to" book like a novel, reminding myself more than once to bend a corner or mark a page for future reference.

My favorite part of the book was the part on living in your calendar versus your inbox. Quick look at your screen and see what is open! That comment in itself added more than a few minutes to my day of productivity. Another example is his description of a personal A3 for problem solving was absolutely flawless in its description and the use of it.

Are you going to get 2 hours a day of time saving tips from the book? I doubt it. What you will get is more productivity and feeling better about what and how you accomplished it. It was my New Year's Day read and I have picked it up every day since then. Not saying you won't be able to put it down but at this point it looks that way for me.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By M and K on January 2, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Conceptually, the basic premise is interesting and makes sense. Below are some pro/con thoughts to consider.

+ Like I say above, the basic premise you're a mini factory is a good one... what value add do you produce?
+ Good "lean" points e.g., "What separates the lean approach to work is the notion that improvement is part of the daily work..."
+ The example of the artist using Standardized Work is (now) a favorite and I'll use that going forward
+ Good observation that (Western) society rewards rapid answers, not well-thought out ones (not a new concept, but it was a welcomed addition nonetheless)

- I was surprised to see 5S presented ahead of both Visual Management and Standardized Work
- Generally, concepts lead with the tools first, which I think defeats lean as a system that cultivates good thinking
- The A3 thinking method should contain one countermeasure (addressing one problem) only
- In PDCA, it is important to stress that Plan is both noun and verb (and so I'm not fond of the Standardized Work "wedge" and PDCA ball graphic borrowed by the author to show how SW prevents backslide).
- I prefer the term "Standardized Work" over "Standard Work." The "ized" is the active/continuous conversion of customer standards into a routine. The customer sets the standards and these need to be converted into steps. Plus, this looks a lot like "Word Standards" which are devised for accountants.

Bottom line: Good, but note possible cons.
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Format: Paperback
"A Factory of One: Applying Lean Principles to Banish Waste and Improve Your Personal Performance" by Daniel Markovitz is an interesting and new look at an old topic, productivity improvement. I'm not sure there was much "new" here, but rather some solid concepts presented in a different manner. I liked the book, and feel is deserves a place among the productivity and business books that line the shelves.

It's just under 150 pages long, which makes it a quick read. It's well organized and flows from topic to topic, providing solid advice on improving personal performance and productivity through the use of Lean principles originally designed to help Toyota factories outperform their competition. Thus, the title, "A Factory of One."

Using this Lean Thinking model, Markovitz addresses the topics of What's Your Job; Spotting Value, Spotting Waste; Flow; Visual Management; and From Bad to Good, and From Good to Great. All of these are important.

I liked the concept of gemba, in the chapter on defining what your job is. I think it is very important to determine what you should be doing that creates value vs. the incidentals and wasteful things that sometimes occupy our time. This chapter does a good job of getting you to look at that. The chapter on spotting value and waste introduces a 5S model which is okay for looking at how you are doing things. There are many of these kinds of models and this is no better or worse than the others. The key is to actually use a system and prevent your office from looking like the picture of Al Gore's office used in the book for illustrative purposes.

The author uses 4Ds to help process work and make it flow. Again, this will work if you actually use it.
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