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

4.5 out of 5 stars 57 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1439859933
ISBN-10: 1439859930
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Editorial Reviews

Review

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.

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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: 5.9 x 0.5 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #146,425 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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By Mike 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.

Pro:
+ 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)

Con:
- 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: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is easy to read yet chock full of great advice from multiple references - mind maps; kanban; kaizen; PDCA; desk, e-document & email management just to name some.

Although I plan to do a few things slightly differently overall this is best single source of information I've come across.

Supplemental thoughts: Was anxious to get initial positive review out quickly. After reviewing the book and actually purchasing another copy for a co-worker - this book is great!!

I'm in an unusual position in that I'm responsible for many clinical research databases in a very research-prolific group in a medical school. I architect & design all, and program & support most. I'm responsible for the data integrity of each and have a lot of follow-up with researchers, statisticians and data entry people. Additionally I'm creating infrastructure policies and procedures for our entire data management operation.

For my specific needs there are far too many tasks and moving pieces to use sticky notes - only do that for collaborative efforts at a high level. For the bulk of my work I use 3x5 index cards in a small case I carry with me (and larger cases on my desk once done). Have divider tabs for the major sections - I've customized the categories and have tweaked them a bit. Since I'm in a lot of meetings, it's easy as I'm given a new task just to write it on a blank card with current date & drop it in Backlog. I endeavor to review backlog at least every other day (sometimes while waiting for a meeting to start). I might have 10+ items between Ready & Today (my own creation of must-do's today), but only move a few to Doing until an emergency comes up. When the task is complete, I'll drop in (waiting for) Retrospective and ultimately to Archive.
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