Leading with Obeya
About Leading with Obeya
Leading with Obeya is a way of working that harnesses the power of Obeya to address leadership-level challenges. This application of using Obeya is used in Lean, Agile and traditional organizations in all types of industries around the globe.
Originally the Obeya or large room was used to develop a car. But you can also broaden this effective way of collaboration to a larger scope. What if your goal is not just to develop the car, but to realize the strategic goals of your organization?
Strategy often remains vague. Only 50% of people say they can relate their daily work to strategic goals (Leadership Systems Survey, Wiegel 2020). What are we doing every day? Making strategic annual plans seems like a seasonal obligation to put piles of paper in a dusty filing cabinet.
“With the leadership with Obeya method you turn your abstract strategy into something you can use on Monday morning.”
By translating the 5 tasks of leadership in organizations into specific visualizations and activities in the Obeya and applying principles derived from Toyota’s success, you get the Leadership with Obeya method.
So what are the five tasks of leadership according to this method?
- Establish the Strategic Direction
Creating clarity about the goal we want to achieve with the organization and what is needed for to achieve it.
- Drive Performance
Making visible where we are now in relation to the goal and where we want to go. In this way we make the goals measurable and / or noticeable.
- Plan to value
Ensuring that the organization works together to deliver the services, products and projects with maximum customer value and in an uninterrupted flow.
- Act & respond
Support the operation by being ready for change, requests and issues from all corners of the organization.
- Solve Tough problems
Realizing structural improvements by solving problems together in a structured way.
These represent the areas of what you would want to see in an Obeya to lead (a part of) the organization. But Obeya is not just about what’s on the walls, the essence lies in how the team thinks and acts to come to meaningful actions and effective decisionmaking. So what principles for thinking & acting help achieve just that?
- Think in systems and ownership
Everything that matters at this level of the organization hangs on the wall and there is always someone from it.
- Visualize shared context and problems
We learn to visualize our context together so that we see it instead of making assumptions. The goal is to understand each other flawlessly, to share valuable context and thus learn, but also to make visible where problems are and where we have to set our priorities.
- Develop people
People are the driving force behind any successful organization. Developing ourselves and everyone around us is a precondition for sustainably better results.
- Rhythm & routine
This is the critical success factor for a working Obeya. The obeya is nothing more than a life-size management report when we do not use it regularly and in the right way.
- Keep improving
Improvement is the job. That conviction leads to continuous and thorough improvement through a structured approach by everyone. Finally, not only are we talking more about “plan-do-check-act”, but we are doing it.
- Go and see for yourself
Recognizing that reports are a selection and (limited) reflection of reality, we go to the shop floor and operation to see for ourselves what the context is where the figures come from. This helps to make good decisions that are based on reality.
- Cascade & Connect
Every organization large or small is really just a large group of people who (should) work together at every level to achieve their ultimate goal. With this principle we ensure that the right people are quickly and properly involved with matters that matter so that we can address the right problems and requests from shop floor to CEO within a day.