Blog What is an Obeya?

Obeya What?!

One of the vital instruments to accomplish enterprise agility is an Obeya. It is the strategical instrument for organizational learning and translating that learning into action rapidly. Ready to dive into this big visual information radiator?

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

Why is an Obeya important?

A great Obeya allows you to anticipate, get your priorities straight and adapt faster by timely identifying the need for change based on relevant and real-time data. It is a place where you can learn and act upon your learnings. It is a place where you experiment, test new hypotheses and validate assumptions together, where you fail fast but learn even faster.

This instrument enables cross-team and cross-department activities that break down the organizational silos and hierarchies with participants only noticing it when showing the first benefits. Dependencies become clear in such a way that you all feel jointly responsible for them to leverage on them and see them more as opportunities to work together than an ‘oh no, I depend on you’.

Obeya is a real product delivery management system that completely satisfies users while contributing to the success of the vision. Edmund Nguyen – InfoQ
Obeya Example

What is an Obeya?

Obeya – Japanese for ”large room” – is a term used in connection with project work in the manufacturing industry. Its origin is in the G21 project at Toyota in the 1990s, which led up to the first-generation Prius. It’s based on the PDCA (Plan Do Check Act/Adjust) principles of Lean Management. In essence, it is a big visual radiator which creates transparency about your value creation process. Where is value created, and where is value blocked?

What information can I find in an Obeya?

The Obeya is the reflection of the company’s strategy, the starting point for any agile team. It shows the entire storyline around one product or initiative:

  • The strategic board guides by showing the purpose, vision, strategic objectives and related key results.
  • The delivery board visualises and monitors the value creation process.
  • The problem-solving board helps to solve issues (both short term and long term)

Bringing these visualized all in one physical or digital room creates the right environment to bring out the 3 key principles: see together, learn together and act together.

I want to visualise my value creation

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