× Expanded Image


Learn more

What is an Obeya Room?

An Obeya room, derived from the Japanese word for 'big room', is a physical space where teams can gather and work together to achieve organizational goals. It is designed to facilitate communication, collaboration, and problem-solving by providing a central location for team members to share information, visualize data, and make decisions.

  • Obeya rooms originated from the concept of 'war rooms' used in Japanese manufacturing companies during World War II.
  • The layout of an Obeya room typically includes dedicated wall space for visual management tools, such as whiteboards and charts.
  • Obeya rooms are often used in Lean and Agile methodologies to drive continuous improvement.

Benefits of an Obeya Room

Setting up an Obeya room can yield numerous benefits for teams and organizations, including:

1. Improved Communication: The open and collaborative nature of an Obeya room promotes better communication between team members, leading to increased understanding and alignment.
2. Enhanced Collaboration: By bringing team members together in one physical space, an Obeya room encourages collaboration, knowledge sharing, and cross-functional teamwork.
3. Visualized Data: An Obeya room provides a platform for visualizing data and information, making it easier for teams to analyze and interpret complex information.
4. Faster Decision-Making: With real-time access to critical information, teams can make informed decisions more quickly, accelerating problem-solving and project progress.

  • Obeya rooms encourage active participation and engagement from all team members, fostering a sense of ownership and accountability.
  • The visual nature of an Obeya room boosts transparency and helps teams identify bottlenecks or areas needing improvement.
  • Research suggests that Obeya rooms can lead to greater employee satisfaction and job fulfillment.

How to Set Up an Obeya Room

To set up an effective Obeya room, consider the following tips:

1. Choose a Dedicated Space: Designate a dedicated area for the Obeya room that is easily accessible to the team and has enough wall space for visual tools.
2. Define the Purpose: Clearly define the purpose of the Obeya room and align it with the team's goals and objectives.
3. Select Appropriate Tools: Determine the visual management tools needed, such as whiteboards, charts, sticky notes, and digital displays.
4. Organize Information Flow: Create a logical flow of information within the Obeya room, ensuring that it is easily understandable and accessible for everyone.
5. Maintain Up-to-Date Data: Regularly update and refresh the data displayed in the Obeya room to ensure relevance and accuracy.

  • The layout and setup of an Obeya room should be flexible to accommodate different team sizes and project requirements.
  • Training team members on the effective use of the Obeya room and its tools can maximize its value.
  • Many organizations find it helpful to have a designated facilitator or coordinator for the Obeya room activities.

Background of Obeya Rooms

The concept of Obeya rooms originated from Japanese manufacturing companies, particularly Toyota, as a way to improve communication and problem-solving during World War II. These 'war rooms' allowed teams to gather crucial data, visualize information, and make timely decisions. Over time, the concept evolved and became more prominent in Lean and Agile practices, where the focus shifted to continuous improvement and collaboration. Today, Obeya rooms are widely used in various industries to create a workspace that fosters transparency, teamwork, and efficient decision-making.

  • The term 'Obeya' is derived from the Japanese words 'o', meaning 'big', and 'beya', meaning 'room'.
  • Obeya rooms emphasize the importance of face-to-face interaction and discourage reliance solely on digital communication.
  • The principles of Obeya rooms align with concepts like Gemba (going to the actual place) and Hoshin Kanri (policy deployment) in Lean management.

Try yourself