What is an Obeya?

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Inclusive decision making

Strategy meets Execution

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Strategy meets execution in the Obeya

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!”

Why Obeya Room

Curious what AgileWalls can do for your Obeya?

Discover how to upgrade your Obeya with Agile Walls

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 Room Example by AgileWalls

The 11 Obeya Principles

The 11 Obeya Principles define Obeya and guide its improvement – regardless of what methodology or approach you choose for your Obeya setup.

The 11 Obeya Principles form an independent framework and have been developed by the Obeya Association in 2020. Developed, used, tried and tested by Obeya practitioners worldwide; the 11 Obeya Principles serve as guiding star for all that is Obeya related.

The Obeya Principles, source; Obeya Association

Obeya - a brief history

Toyota lean obeya

Obeya originated from the Toyota Production System

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.

Build your Obeya with 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!

Digital Obeya Room by AgileWalls

The AgileWalls modular system

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. 

The Obeya Association

We think that Obeya deserves to be more than a tool.

A philosophy by itself perhaps.

A missing piece in the Organizational Theory puzzle.

A way to deal with the challenges ahead.

And with full potential to outgrow its status as tool within the Lean toolbox.

This is why we have founded the Obeya Association.

The Obeya Association is a platform and a world wide network that aims to share knowledge on Obeya easier than before.

Obeya is a bit of a new kid on the organizational theory block and the Obeya Association has set out to assure quality.

The Obeya Association aims to develop Obeya “from tool to philosophy”. And Bart and Dolf strongly support the case.

Being a community of Obeya practitioners, the Associates are constantly discussing, creating, sharing, testing and continuously improving Obeya practices.

Download free Obeya Wall Designs

At AgileWalls we help you design your own Obeya Walls. Both for digital and physical use.

Our Wall setups are modular, so the design process is fast and effective.

Interested? Leave your details and receive some of our Wall designs for free!

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