Obeya at Nike – interview with Fred Mathijssen

While writing ‘Leading with Obeya’, I had the privilege to interview leaders that have demonstrated the effectiveness of Obeya and managed to put the underlying principles into practice.

One of them is Fred Mathijssen, a successful senior director at Nike who has chosen to dedicate part of his available time in his retirement to help others adopt leadership with Obeya.

In this interview we talk about why he got started with Obeya at Nike in his Lean journey, what problems it solved for him as a leader, and how to make it work.

What I like about the interview (and this is what happened with all senior managers I interviewed for the book) is that he chooses words and explains his choices and viewpoints in a way that is respectful of people and focused on learning to improve the system, not to blindly to chase KPI’s and objectives. This indicates that leaders that can be this effective have incorporated continuous improvement into their way of thinking as a habit, not as a trick.

I think a lot of leaders adopting Lean, Agile or DevOps ways of working will find this very interesting, especially if they have challenges scaling their organisation.