What is an Obeya

Dolf
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

The Obeya is a physical or digital space where strategy meets execution. The Obeya approach builds alignment and ownership across diverse groups of stakeholders to solve complex problems, drive cultural change and get work done. It is not just a facilitation style – it is a way of working, thinking, designing solutions and fostering innovation.

“Obeya is a method where multiple information sources are combined for optimal decision making, involving multiple parties simultaneously. This makes it an excellent governing model for organizations that work Agile, Lean, or plan to do so!”

What is the Obeya Methodology?

In short: it is a method where multiple information sources are combined for optimal decision making, involving multiple parties simultaneously. This makes it an excellent governing model for organizations that work Agile, Lean, or plan to do so! 

The Obeya model is an inclusive organizational model as opposed to the hierarchical organizational models. So, an Obeya makes it possible to “design” for collaboration. In an Obeya strategy meets execution and (quite literally) the people involved in these subjects respectfully engage in conversation with each other.

As organization you can now provide answers to the following questions:

  • Are we connected?
  • Is everyone working on the same things?
  • Are we meeting delivery/deadlines?
  • Do our decisions reach everyone?
  • Are we looking at the right information?
  • What problems do we want to solve?
  • Are the right people involved?

The best guidance on how to build or improve an Obeya are the 11 Obeya principles composed by the Obeya Association in 2020.

Obeya - a brief history​

Obeya or Oobeya ( from Japanese 大 部屋) literaly means “large room” or “war room”. Toyota put Obeya into practice back in 1993 launching their first Prius as a part of the Toyota Lean Manufacturing System. Takeshi Uchiyamada, a Toyota Chief Engineer, was given a difficult challenge: designing the car of the 21st century, with very aggressive fuel consumption targets.

In less than three years, the first hybrid car, the Prius, was brought to market – 15 years ahead of the competition

To pull off such a feat, the Chief Engineer also had to invent a new product and process development approach. He designed a new kind of visual management, which has since spread across Toyota engineering offices: the Obeya.

Analogies have been drawn between an Obeya and the bridge of a ship, a war room and even a brain. If you think of an organization as a nervous system, then Obeya would be the brain of the system. It is where information comes to be synthesized and digested, then analyzed and prioritized. Finally, the aim of all this information is to take well informed decisions, using both the power of information as well as involving multiple parties simultaneously..

The Obeya Room

An Obeya room is a central location in which everyone involved in the value creation process can meet to brainstorm, generate ideas, ask questions, and debate. Obeyas are typically set up with the walls plastered with posters, whiteboards, graphs, and all other relevant information to the project displayed in a clear and logical manner. Obeya rooms fuel creativity, break down silo barriers and increase collaboration on all levels while developing problem-solving skills. An Obeya room can be intended to shorten the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle. There even is a physical Obeya method where the walls are structured according to PDCA principles.

Often the rooms have iterative meeting rhythms in which the timespan between two Obeya meeting iterations is short (say 2 weeks). This rhythm allows for Continuous Improvement, which is best executed in multiple consecutive small steps instead of an approach that aims for a single solution.

However, the Obeya is not just about the room only, or the visual representation of information. Ultimately Obeya rooms are about installing routines (‘Kata’) to collaborate, manage the business and solve problems more effectively. Otherwise, even though the Obeya room may be visually eye-catching, that may be all it is.

obeya PDCA

How does an Obeya work?

The Obeya provides an advanced visual representation of the relevant, planned work and work in progress of a group of people in an organization, supporting their frequent meetings and their drive to continuously improve group performance, while taking their shared strategy to execution and professionalizing collaboration across teams.

Visual Management is an important Lean practice used to inform and involve anyone in the process, and quickly allow large groups of people to see what is happening. The workflow (gemba) is the most important source of information and for staff to constantly understand what is going on around them, visual methods are a perfect way to get messages across. 

Why use an Obeya?

  1. Powerful approach for Strategic Alignment. The Obeya connects strategy to execution with visible orientation on customer experience.
  2. Strong backbone for employee engagement. People come together in the Obeya to contribute to
    high impact improvements every day
  3. Supercharged engine for Business Performance. The Obeya enables insightful measurement of productivity and Business Value, to be positively influenced by all.”

About AgileWalls

We are on a mission to make life easier and collaboration more effective. 

Good visual management leads to better collaboration. 

Using modular design as basic principle we can bring great visual management to your doorstep. Both physical and digital.

Digital Obeya Solutions

AgileWalls uses tried and tested designs and structures on online collaboration tooling such as Miro or MURAL. Our modular Obeya Set-up is ready to use and aided by our experience, you are up to speed in just a couple of iterations. 

We can:

  1. Transform an existing Obeya to a digital one
  2. Build custom Obeya’s from scratch.

Once the design of the Obeya is satisfactory, it is really easy to convert the digital Obeya into a physical Obeya!

Physical Obeya solutions

At AgileWalls we have years of experience in building revolutionary Obeya’s across multiple industries. Throughout the years, our designs developed:

  • A strong connection between digital and analog/physical collaboration spaces. 
  • Strong visual structures that make Obeya collaboration intuitive and easily accessible.

Our AgileWalls concept consists of modular, easy fix Wall Elements that can be combined to design and build physical Obeya’s. 

AgileWalls - Modular Whiteboard Wall GIF

Physical AgileWalls example

Curious how we can help you set up your Obeya Room? Find out more on AgileWalls.com

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Digital vs Physical Obeya Rooms: what works best?

WhatsApp Image 2020 02 13 at 15.59.36
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

The office as we know it has changed severely over the last year. Remote working is here to stay. Obviously this has had an impact on the use of visual management and Obeya Rooms.

We see organizations replicating their physical Obeya Room in online whiteboard collaboration tooling such as Mural or MIRO. Or we see companies starting out with Obeya digitally from scratch, without ever having had the full blown experience of a physical Obeya.

So what are best practices in setting up a digital Obeya? And what are the pros and cons considering digital vs physical Obeya Rooms?

“A digital Obeya really speeds up starting to work with Obeya. No more hassle in finding the right room or walls in the office to claim as the Obeya.”

Upsides of using a Digital Obeya

Pitfalls of using a digital Obeya

Although there are many benefits working with a digital Obeya, there are some pitfalls to take into account:

Using video conferencing tooling  it is easy to miss the non-verbal communication through body-language, which takes up to 55% of all communication (Mehrabian, Albert (1972). Nonverbal Communication). 

In my personal experience; sometimes real conversations and people are reduced to ‘voices in my ear’ while I am focussing on something else on my screen. Behaviour I would never show in a face-to-face situation!

We have seen digital Obeya’s that are so packed with milestones, metrics, data and information that we would be totally lost and miss seeing the big picture that we are used to see in a physical Obeya.

About AgileWalls

We are on a mission to make life easier and collaboration more effective. 

Good visual management leads to better collaboration. 

Using modular design as basic principle we can bring great visual management to your doorstep. Both physical and digital.

Digital Obeya Solutions

AgileWalls uses tried and tested designs and structures on online collaboration tooling such as Miro or MURAL. Our modular Obeya Set-up is ready to use and aided by our experience, you are up to speed in just a couple of iterations. 

We can:

  1. Transform an existing Obeya to a digital one
  2. Build custom Obeya’s from scratch.

Once the design of the Obeya is satisfactory, it is really easy to convert the digital Obeya into a physical Obeya!

Physical Obeya solutions

At AgileWalls we have years of experience in building revolutionary Obeya’s across multiple industries. Throughout the years, our designs developed:

  • A strong connection between digital and analog/physical collaboration spaces. 
  • Strong visual structures that make Obeya collaboration intuitive and easily accessible.

Our AgileWalls concept consists of modular, easy fix Wall Elements that can be combined to design and build physical Obeya’s. 

AgileWalls - Modular Whiteboard Wall GIF

Physical AgileWalls example

Curious how we can help you set up your Obeya Room? Find out more on AgileWalls.com

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

What is Miro

WhatsApp Image 2020 02 13 at 15.59.36
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Miro was known in the past as RealtimeBoard, an online collaborative whiteboard platform that unites teams together and allows smooth online brainstorming, it offers infinite zoomable canvas and web whiteboards that enable teams to keep everyone in touch by seeing the big picture alongside the details. As software, Miro can be used to write down notes, create designs and communicate through video calls or online chatting. It allows adding many types of content such as texts and images with visual templates to help to explain different ideas and communicate more efficiently.

Some of the best features that Miro offers:

  1. Sticky notes that can be imported from spreadsheets and images or even added manually.
  2. Many add-ons (app integrations) that improve the experience as a whole such as Jira, Sketch, and Slack.
  3. It’s compatible with all devices.
  4. It recognizes drawings.

Miro helps teams go beyond just brainstorming, as it has many features and tasks that ensure collaboration within the team such as workshopping, strategy mapping, Agile ceremonies, UX research, product development, customer discovery, and process visualization.

Miro is not the only online Whiteboard tool on the market. Learn about i

“Miro’s infinitely zoomable canvas and web whiteboard enables you to work the way you want to. Unleash your creativity, plan projects from all angles, and create centralized hubs of information to keep everyone in the loop. See the big picture and the details.”

How to use Miro

If you don’t know your way around this platform, multiple resources can be reached easily to learn more about how to use Miro and benefit from all its features.

  1. YouTube tutorials: To get familiar with the platform and the different functions within it, many tutorial videos on YouTube explain a lot of features and help you get started.
  2. Miro templates: On Miro’s website there is a library for templates that help setting up your workshop, class, project, or session. It includes templates for different specialties such as marketing, ideation, and strategy, so you can always find something relevant to what you want to set up.
  3. Mito Support & Help Center: It offers many written guidelines to the frequently asked questions and situations that you may encounter and can be interesting for you to learn about.
  4. Miro Blog: As the name shows, it includes blog posts about different topics within Miro that can be very helpful to users and guide them in the platform.

Why use an online Whiteboard

Miro states that four key trends make an online whiteboard relevant for online collaboration as follows:

  1. An influx of remote workers: Global Leadership Summit in 2014 had a survey states that more than a third of businesses plan to have half of their workforce working remotely by 2020, and with the recent developments of COVID-19, it becomes crucial to embrace working remotely.
  2. Customer centricity, design thinking & Agile: Leading-edge technologies are being adopted across all industries and not limited to technology teams, so whiteboarding is a vital part of the design-thinking process that also needs to be implemented online.
  3. Digital Transformation: According to Miro’s survey, two out of three participants are saying their sectors are characterized by rapid change, and new technology products are moving only forward to meet the future demands.
  4. Visual thinking: According to William Bradford, 65% of the population are visual learners. The way people receive and process information is crucial to increase the efficiency of teams in different organizations, that’s why Miro provides flexible whiteboards to enable teams to collaborate constructively.

How to integrate Miro and Obeya

As the main aspect of visual management, Obeya methodology (a Japanese word for “big room”) is a Lean concept that is used to structure work, strategize and plan projects within Obeya Rooms. Integrating Miro as a virtual whiteboard with Digital Obeya Rooms can help:

  1. Planning by improving communication and visualizing information in a structured way
  2. Improve performance by offering smooth communication within the team
  3. Accurate evaluation of results by tracking every step of a process visually
  4. Improve efficiency through helpful visuals and vital resources all in one place
  5. Improve collaboration in teams by offering a shared environment where all members can work together and share their thoughts in one place

Generally, integrating Miro and Obeya can lead to significant results through improving communication and collaboration, consequently better results in any project, it can offer a virtual space where everyone can be part of the same environment

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

What is Mural

WhatsApp Image 2020 02 13 at 15.59.36
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Mural an online tool that’s used to enable teams to collaborate visually and innovatively by offering solutions to overcome their challenges. It enables team members to share their ideas visually and virtually which leads to more efficient communication and collaboration. It’s a collaborative space where teams can organize their ideas in different ways such as lists, flowcharts, frameworks, and drawings.

Here are some of the features that Mural offers:

  1. Sticky notes: Helps sharing ideas and feedback for further actions.
  2. Shapes & connectors: Help create diagrams to illustrate complicated workflows
  3. Icons: Helps search for icons to create a visual story
  4. Frameworks: Organizes content and ideas to provide structured insights
  5. Images & GIFs: You can use visuals to improve collaboration in a session
  6. Drawing: Increase creativity by using freehand sketching and writing

“Communicate visually using sticky notes, flowcharts and mapping, drawings, and so much more. Then keep collaborators productive and engaged with voting, timer, and celebration features.”

How to use Mural

Mural is a place where you can map all kinds of content, like a giant canvas that can be customized however you desire, as it has many features, learning how to benefit from all of these features is crucial. Multiple resources give guidelines and information on how to use Mural as follows:

  1. YouTube tutorial videos: It’s a collection of videos that help users to get started with the tool, these tutorials give insights from the basics of using the software to how you can design your thinking sessions or workshops on the platform.
  2. Templates: Mural’s website has a library consists of 100+ templates to help you start your next collaboration session.
  3. Facilitating in Mural: If you’re interested in a specific topic or finding a particular piece of information about Mural, Facilitating in Mural is the place to go, as it offers a variety of resources to help users.
  4. Mural webinars: As an external source that provides support on how to use Mural, UniversityWebinars.org has numerous tutorial videos and webinars that give the latest insights about the tool, as it’s constantly updated.
  5. IBM guide: Another external source of information about the tool is IBM, as it has a resource that offers helpful hints and tips about implementing the tool during virtual meetings, workshops, or sessions.

Why use Mural

Mural is a digital workspace intended for visual collaboration in teams, it provides a space to simplify complex challenges visually, and organize different processes on any device. Besides its many distinctive features explained above, Mural has a lot more to offer:

  1. Solving problems: The tool offers the possibility to collaborate visually within teams, so the speed and the ease of use of the tool make it effective in solving crucial problems.
  2. Visualizing ideas: By simply creating notes, flowcharts, diagrams, frameworks, and drawings to visualize the information and making it easy to grasp.
  3. More control: Through a wide set of tools within Mural, you can have full control over the meeting, workshop, or session.
  4. Spend less time: By choosing the right template and modify on it according to your needs would save a lot of time creating it from scratch.
  5. Always on schedule: You can set timers during your session in Mural to always stay on schedule.
  6. Content always saved: All the content that you create in Mural is automatically saved when it’s created.

How to integrate Mural and Obeya

Obeya (as part of Lean) offers a space to brainstorm ideas, plan, and structure work. If Digital Obeya Rooms are integrated with the tools that Mural offers, significant results can be achieved, as both sides have a lot to present which contributes to the progress of a project or an organization. Obeya helps identify problems and adjust the plan accordingly, with the right set of tools that Mural offers this process can be done more effectively. Here are some of the main accomplishments for integrating Mural and Obeya:

  1. Deliver value: Through displaying the activities that are planned to uncover the value in the clearest way possible.
  2. Drive performance: It happens when all team members are on the same page in terms of understanding different processes.
  3. Solve problems: Through Obeya’s structured problem-solving method, and the set of tools that Mural offers, problem-solving can be achieved effectively.

Both sides have a lot to offer, and if integrated within a project or an organization, they can drive significant results.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Download the FREE pdf

Download this fundamental Obeya body of knowledge to get started on Obeya!

OBEYA - by the Obeya Association