Creating Obeya for Lean Performance Management

Creating Obeya for Lean Performance Management

What is an Obeya?

A room with a view

“Obeya" is a Japanese word.It means "Big Room", Sometimes also referred to as “War Room”

The theory behind the Obeya is based on a simple idea:

Dedicate Time and Space to coordination and Problem- solving and organizational barriers will be minimized

Obeya in various phases of the Lean Journey

One of the primary purposes of the obeya is to shorten the PDCA cycle.

In the past, each PDCA cycle would take weeks – with Gemba visits, video conferences, and countless e-mails. But with Obeya, there could be several PDCA cycles per day

What to display in an Obeya room?

Generally existing measurements and control processes do not work in a Lean environment . 

Hence a new framework for Lean performance measurement has to be worked out.

The framework must assist in answering the following 3 Questions:

  1. What to measure
  2. How Often to measure
  3. How to control

What to measure?

Let us take an example: Suppose a heavy set person has a goal of becoming thin

So what must be measured...The weight lost?....but the goal is not specific enough so let us re-define our goal – “Loose 15 Kg in 6 Months”

But that still does not help with our Obeya display ....We must break the goal down further into specific milestones ( secondary goals)

So this could be  “Loose 2.5 Kg every month”

Does this alone suffice..NO....this is a only a result parameter

we must ALSO measure the process parameters that are going to get us that result

So we could also measure for example:

Time spent on the treadmill daily ( say against a target of 1 hr)

The calories of food intake daily ( against a target of less than1500 calories)

Key Learning points:

  • Have a well defined goal ( for each aspect)
  • Break the goal down into secondary goals or milestones
  • Identify process parameters that will get us to the goal
  • Display BOTH the Result and Process parameters
  • All measures must show the desired /target condition against the actual...that is how an abnormality surfaces and the PDCA improvement cycle begins

How Often to measure?

The frequency of measurement is determined by:

1.The speed of System change
       - The more rapid the change, the more frequent the measurement 

2. The system response time to change

     - how long does it take for a change in the process to be actually reflected in the result ( process performance)

How to Control

Measurement in itself can NEVER control a process 

The team must be prepared to address all problems that arise

Hence organisations must develop a capability to take quick actions and an  Infrastructure for quick response action

Without this the usefulness of the Obeya is almost lost

Some aids to enhancing quick action:

1.Daily accountability board
2.Red line review system
3.A3 – where teams have to be involved for problem solving
4.Kamishibai cards

What is achieved by setting up an Obeya:

  • Awareness of problems is maintained in “REAL” time
  • Getting people together- enhancing quick decision making and rapid action
  • Opportunity for team members to voice concerns and collaborate
  • Accelerated Team member development – Provides opportunity for developing leadership.
  • Eliminates ad-hoc responses without root cause measures
  • Leveraging of expertise and support from members from diverse fields 
  • An appreciation for the right things ( wrong measures end up “applauding” over production when it infrequently occurs)

Examples of Displays, layouts



OBEYA - Example

Red Line review Example

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