Blog How to Implement your Obeya in 3 Steps

Move forward and make a vision come alive by taking decisions

There used to be a time when your leaders and their broad expertise were enough to improve your customer’s satisfaction. The longer you were active in the organisation, the more experience you had, and probably the better results you produced. Now, the world changes so fast, and we cannot rely anymore purely on our understanding of the past. But how can we act differently? How can you make decisions using experimentation? How can you constantly re-adjust your efforts to obtain your customer’s optimal value? Implementing an Obeya would be a significant first step!

Authors: Alexander Suykens, Anne-Marie Zeghers & Sonja Noben


Obeya What?!

A physical room (and Obeya stands for « large room ») typically has four walls, so use them.

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Step 1: Create your four walls

The first wall, called Purpose, will visualise the main objectives and key results. Here we find smart metrics with a clear target and a target date. It will also show how we’re moving forward towards our intended target. The second wall, called Planning, creates transparency in your delivery. It shows your delivery plan, and it points out the items you need to discuss. The third wall is all about action, called Impact, where impediments (which are blocking delivery) are being discussed. The goal is to translate these into actions, and those actions will be followed up in an adjacent Kanban board. And the last wall is about experiments, called Evolution. Using one of many available methods like A4, PDCA, Popcorn or Kata, we make sure that we have these experiments on the wall. This allows you to know who is mentoring the experiment and the result.

Even when setting up your Obeya digitally, these four walls make the utmost sense as you otherwise will get lost in the endless possibility to add and add.

Step 2: Combine the four walls and see the magic unfold

Making all this information transparent and visible for your entire team will help you deliver more value. But that is only the start of it. There is a clear connection between these walls. Leverage upon this link and see what happens next.!

If you focus via your purpose wall on the objectives that need the most of your attention, you will know which ones you can start experimenting with. These small experiments will be monitored closely, as well as their impact on your OKR’s on the evolution wall. And when an experiment is successful, it could be translated into a deliverable on the planning wall. That one allows you to follow up on the progress and detect impediments. The actions to solve the impediments are visible and monitored on the action wall. That is how it all comes together.

Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision. Peter F. Drucker

Step 3: Use the room to exchange and decide

And that is that… Or is it… Setting up an Obeya is one thing. Maintaining it is another story. Make sure you enable your Obeya, with the right participants, in the most effective ways. Put in a regular rhythm (the frequency of your ceremonies) and make sure there are routines. This will help to change leadership’s behaviour from traditional ways of ensuring delivery towards the Obeya way. A collective initiative where a team starts deciding on facts instead of a gut feeling.

Let’s build or improve your Obeya together

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