A Better Way To Work TimeBack Management

About Dan Markovitz

Dan Markovitz is the founder and president of TimeBack Management. Prior to founding his own firm, Mr. Markovitz held management positions at Sierra Designs, Adidas, CNET and Asics Tiger. Learn More...

Leveling; smoothing out the flow; e.g., doing two performance evaluations a day for 3 weeks, rather than ten a day for three days -- and then needing to take a vacation because you're so burned out.
Overburdening people, process, or equipment; e.g., people working 100 hour weeks for months on end -- come to think of it, like most lawyers and accountants.
Uneveness or variability; e.g., leaving work at the normal time on Thursday, but having to stay at the office till midnight on Friday because the boss finally got around to giving you that project...at 4:30pm.
Waste; activities that your customer doesn't value and doesn't want to pay for; e.g., billing your customer for the really expensive 10am FedEx delivery because you didn't finish the document on time.

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What's all this Lean business?

Posted February 8, 2007 @ 3:56 PM

WorkLean has nothing to do with Jenny Craig.

Lean is a manufacturing ideaology invented -- and best exemplified -- by Toyota. (Which is on its way to eclipsing GM as the world's largest car maker. And long ago eclipsed GM as the world's most profitable car maker.)

Lean is an all-encompassing way of running a company. I use "way" in the sense of "the way of the warrior" or the "way of the Camaroon pygmies." lt's a comprehensive philosophy that guides a company.

The aspect of Lean most important to me, right now, is the emphasis on eliminating waste. "Waste," in this case, is defined as anything the customer doesn't want to pay for. So the time you spend surfing the web is waste from the customer's perspective. (They don't want to pay for your entertainment. They want to buy your product or service at the lowest possible cost.)

But waste is also the time lost to disorganization. Waste is the expense of FedExing something because of poor planning on your boss' part. Waste is the rework of a spreadsheet because someone didn't give you the right information the first time. Waste is the Saturday morning you have to spend in the office because the piece of the project you required was late.

I'll write more about waste in subsequent posts. (My wife fondly refers to me as the only Jew in the waste management business.) Suffice it to say that I'll be helping you identify the hidden waste in your work, and helping you eliminate it.

That's what WorkLean is all about.

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Just what the world needs: another blog

Posted February 8, 2007 @ 3:40 PM


To paraphrase the band Cracker, what the world needs now is another blog, like you need a hole in your head.

So why do it? Well, I'm hoping to disintermediate brick-and-mortar and virtual booksellers and provide value-added content that synergistically reinforces my client coaching. It will create a virtuous circle that allows clients and readers to leverage my insights for paradigm-shifting workplace performance.

Oh, wait. That's so Web 1.0. Never mind.

Let's try that again.

What I'd like to do is provide ideas to readers interested in becoming a little more productive. A little more efficient. A little more protected from the avalance of work that threatens to bury them each day.

Of course, there are other people out there addressing the same issues. Some of them are quite good. I hope to earn your attention through the quality of my ideas and the clarity of my presentation. And maybe along the way I'll make you laugh. That would be nice, too.

I'm not as voluble as Seth Godin: you won't find me posting 5 times a day. I'm probably not as funny as Merlin Mann. I'm not as inspirational as Jason Womack. I certainly don't have the aesthetic sensibility of Garr Reynolds. And lord knows that I can't even comprehend the technical aspects of Tim Gaden.

But somewhere in the spaces in between, I hope you'll find my voice. And decide that it's a worthy addition to your reading list.


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An (Im)perfect Mess

Posted January 14, 2007 @ 4:48 PM

The new book, "A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder", is creating waves for its unorthodox acceptance -- even approval -- of mess at home and at the office.

But is messiness really beneficial?

I think the authors make an unfair distinction. On the one hand, you have order for order's sake. The authors argue that all those poor fools who arrange their pencils by hardness of lead are in love with order for no valid reason other than aesthetics. Or they're neurotic.

On the other hand, you have chaos in the service of creativity. The authors suggest that messiness enables people to get on with the really important things in their lives, rather than having their sock drawer arranged just right. And the time freed up by embracing chaos allows people to do wonderful things, like connecting two pieces of paper on their desks, and winning a Nobel Prize.

But they miss the point. Truly organized people aren't organized just for the sake of order. Rather, their organization is a RESULT of a process for dealing with all the stuff in their lives. These folks avoid interment in paper or email by having a clear methodology for handling all the personal and business responsibilities in their lives. By handling this stuff effectively, they avoid clutter and chaos.

So people shouldn't focus on getting organized. Rather, they should focus on a system for dealing with all the stuff that comes at them.

The authors of "A Perfect Mess" make much of the Nobel Prize that came about because someone connected two pieces of paper on his desk. I suppose you might be skillfully processing yourself out of the cure for cancer, or cold fusion. But that seems to me a bit like using the Powerball lottery as a retirement strategy. It *might* pay off. But most likely, you'll just be out a couple of bucks.

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