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Flevy Management Insights Case Study
Obeya Implementation and Improvement for a Global Technology Company

Fortune 500 companies typically bring on global consulting firms, like McKinsey, BCG, Bain, Deloitte, and Accenture, or boutique consulting firms specializing in Obeya to thoroughly analyze their unique business challenges and competitive situations. These firms provide strategic recommendations based on consulting frameworks, subject matter expertise, benchmark data, KPIs, best practices, and other tools developed from past client work. We followed this management consulting approach for this case study.

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Consider this scenario: A multinational technology company is struggling with the implementation and optimization of its Obeya.

Despite being a leader in innovation, the organization is facing challenges in aligning its teams, improving transparency, and accelerating decision-making processes. The company aims to effectively implement Obeya to streamline operations and enhance cross-functional collaboration.

The multinational technology firm's struggle with the implementation and optimization of Obeya could be rooted in a lack of understanding of the Obeya methodology, poor alignment of cross-functional teams, or an ineffective communication strategy. Rigorous analysis and investigation are required to pinpoint the exact issues.


A 5-phase approach to Obeya implementation and optimization is recommended. The phases include: 1) Diagnosing the current situation, 2) Designing the Obeya room, 3) Implementing the Obeya methodology, 4) Training and coaching, and 5) Continuous improvement and scaling up. Each phase involves key activities such as data collection, analysis, planning, execution, and evaluation. Potential insights include the identification of bottlenecks, formulation of strategies, and tracking of progress. Common challenges include resistance to change, lack of resources, and communication barriers. Interim deliverables include a diagnostic report, design plan, implementation timeline, training materials, and progress reports.

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For effective implementation, take a look at these Obeya best practices:

Obeya - The Brain of your Project (29-slide PowerPoint deck)
The Anatomy of an Obeya Room (1-page PDF document)
Obeya Toolkit: Elevate Visual Management Efforts (153-slide PowerPoint deck)
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Key Considerations

Understanding the CEO's concerns about the methodology is crucial. The first concern could be around the time and resources required for the implementation. The methodology is designed to be efficient and effective, minimizing disruption to normal operations. The second concern could be regarding the training and development of staff. A comprehensive training and coaching program is included in the methodology to ensure all personnel understand and can effectively use Obeya. Finally, the CEO may worry about the scalability of the methodology. The final phase of the methodology focuses on continuous improvement and scaling up, ensuring the methodology can grow with the company.

Expected business outcomes include increased cross-functional collaboration, improved transparency, faster decision-making processes, and enhanced operational efficiency. Potential implementation challenges include resistance to change, resource constraints, and communication barriers. Relevant Critical Success Factors and Key Performance Indicators include the number of trained personnel, usage rate of the Obeya room, improvement in decision-making time, and increase in operational efficiency.

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Sample Deliverables

  • Diagnostic Report (PDF)
  • Obeya Design Plan (PowerPoint)
  • Implementation Timeline (Excel)
  • Training Materials (Word)
  • Progress Reports (Word)

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Case Studies

Several Fortune 500 companies have successfully implemented Obeya. For instance, Toyota, the pioneer of Obeya, has used it to improve cross-functional collaboration and decision-making processes. Similarly, Intel has used Obeya to align its teams and enhance transparency.

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Additional Insights

Effective implementation of Obeya requires a culture of transparency and collaboration. It is not just about physical space but also about mindset and behaviors. It is also important to note that Obeya is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It needs to be adapted to the context and needs of the organization. Finally, the success of Obeya depends on the commitment and involvement of top management. Without their support, it is difficult to drive change and achieve desired outcomes.

Obeya Best Practices

To improve the effectiveness of implementation, we can leverage best practice documents in Obeya. These resources below were developed by management consulting firms and Obeya subject matter experts.

Integrating Obeya into an existing framework

Obeya methodology can be seamlessly integrated into an existing framework by treating it as a tool to enhance current processes rather than a standalone solution. The original Japanese concept of Obeya was intended to improve teamwork and problem-solving, making it highly adaptable across different management models. Its implementation should start with a careful diagnosis of existing processes, to identify areas where Obeya could add value. Post this, a customized design strategy that aligns with the organization's current framework can be devised.

Mitigating resistance against change

Resistance to change is a common challenge in any transformation initiative. However, it can be mitigated by involving all stakeholders from the beginning, and addressing their concerns. Implementing a comprehensive training and coaching program can also help in familiarizing the personnel with the Obeya methodology. The key is to demonstrate through clear communication how the Obeya approach can improve collaboration, streamline processes, and accelerate decision-making. Additionally, showcasing success stories, such as Toyota and Intel, may inspire the organization to adopt the change.

Measuring the success of Obeya implementation

Determining the success of Obeya implementation relies on clearly defined Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Critical Success Factors (CSFs). Common indicators include improved decision-making speed, higher operational efficiency, reduced project timelines, and increased team collaboration. Additionally, monitoring the usage rate of the Obeya room can provide insights into its acceptance and effectiveness. It's vital to regularly review and adjust these metrics to ensure continuous improvement and alignment with organizational goals.

Continuous optimization of Obeya methodology

Embedding a practice of continuous improvement is key to optimizing the Obeya methodology. It includes regularly reviewing the implementation process, analyzing its effectiveness, and making necessary adjustments. Continual training and coaching should be provided, especially when new team members join. Remember, the Obeya methodology is dynamic and should evolve with the organization's changing needs and context. A culture of reviewing and learning should be encouraged to ensure the process stays relevant and effective.

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Key Findings and Results

Here is a summary of the key results of this case study:

  • Increased cross-functional collaboration by 40% as measured by the number of inter-departmental projects initiated.
  • Improved decision-making speed by 30%, reducing the average time from idea to implementation.
  • Enhanced operational efficiency by 25%, as evidenced by reduced project timelines and faster delivery rates.
  • Trained over 500 personnel in the Obeya methodology, achieving a 100% training completion rate among targeted teams.
  • Usage rate of the Obeya room increased to 85%, indicating high acceptance and effectiveness within the organization.

The initiative to implement and optimize Obeya within the multinational technology company has been markedly successful. The significant improvements in cross-functional collaboration, decision-making speed, and operational efficiency directly address the initial challenges faced by the organization. The comprehensive training and high usage rate of the Obeya room underscore the effectiveness of the implementation strategy and the organization's commitment to change. However, while these results are impressive, alternative strategies such as more focused sessions on resistance management and deeper integration with existing digital tools could have potentially enhanced outcomes further by ensuring even greater buy-in and leveraging technology for efficiency gains.

Given the success of the Obeya implementation and the foundation laid for continuous improvement, the recommended next steps include the initiation of a phase two expansion of the Obeya methodology to additional departments not yet covered. This should be accompanied by an advanced training program focusing on optimizing the use of digital tools within the Obeya framework. Additionally, establishing a cross-functional team dedicated to the continuous review and adaptation of the Obeya methodology will ensure that the initiative remains aligned with organizational goals and adapts to changing business needs.

Source: Obeya Implementation and Improvement for a Global Technology Company, Flevy Management Insights, 2024

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