Review Leading with Obeya

The book Leading with Obeya – Maximizing human leadership potential by Tim Wiegel gives a complete picture of the Obeya concept. The book is built around the Leading with Obeya – reference model. The book starts with an introduction of Obeya, followed by the relevance of Obeya for leading organizations, the principles, the five visual areas on the wall and how to transform your leadership system by using a transformation approach. Throughout the book the author uses The Bike Factory case to translate the theory into practical examples and he offers many tips.

The Obeya (Japanese for ‘big room’) is a physical space where management is used to align operational teams and leadership in their efforts to translate strategy into meaningful day-to-day work and results. It helps develop the ability to have meetings that create meaningful context and avoid distractions such as bias, ego and over-complexity. When used throughout the organization, it supports the development of a systematic approach to leadership that enables consistent, coherent and effective decision-making.

Some reasons to use Obeya are: better alignment between teams and alignment of purpose, more effective meetings, better insights & decision-making, people development, trust & collaboration and rewarding.

In the Obeya, the five key responsibilities are visualized: lead successful strategies, drive performance, deliver value, solve problems and act & respond. But only the visuals will not add value unless you put the principles into practice. The team must also follow the seven principles for behaviour: think in systems  & accountability, share context & problems visually, develop people, rhythm & routine (kata), keep improving, go & see and cascade & connect.

To start with an Obeya it is recommended to use a transformation approach (approach agreed, Obeya explained, commit, set the stage, refine the information, starting the routines and continuous improvement).

Conclusion: A very practical book to get a good understanding of the Obeya concept. The usage of a single case throughout the book makes it very easy to understand the theory. Definitely a must read for management teams who want to improve their organization’s performance.

To order Leading with Obeya:

For more information on Obeya (including the reference model):

Some minor issues from my side regarding the content of the book: 

  • is it ‘succesful’ or ‘successful’ (In the Obeya model and related pictures ‘succesful’ is used)? I think it has to be ‘successful’.
  • Headings in the text related to the pictures are not synchronized (figure 1.5 – table 1.3, figure 5.1 and paragraph headers)
  • Process efficiency in figure 4.24: processing time 105 minutes, waiting time 130 minutes. The process efficiency showed in the picture is 81%. I would say to total lead time is 105 + 130 = 235 minutes. The process efficiency is 105/235 = 45%
  • Figure 5.3: step 8 or step 6?

Virtual Obeya: make it look & feel like the physical one!

One response to “Review Leading with Obeya

  1. Thanks again Henny, I just got this on Kindle.

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