The Japanese term Obeya (great room) originated in the 1990’s and is considered a component of the Toyota Production System. The Obeya was instituted during the product and process development, where all individuals involved in managerial planning met in a ‘great room’ to speed communication and decision-making.
Conceptually akin to traditional ‘war rooms’, an Obeya will contain visually engaging charts and graphs depicting such information as program timing, milestones and progress-to-date, and countermeasures to existing technical or scheduling issues. An Obeya room can also be a place for software development, a command center, managing new business strategy, workflow and project management. This tool forces people to work together without distractions and creates a great atmosphere to generate new ideas.
From the perspective of organisational transformation, it is worthwhile for senior leaders to consider implementing their own version of Obeya, in order to achieve and maintain efforts towards the desired future state.
- An Obeya (or War Room) aids communication between the key stakeholders of the transformation.
- It can reinforce a shared understanding of the current status and where efforts need to be focused to ensure progress.
- It allows for prioritisation and effective workload distribution.
- Access to the visual components and information storage can be challenging for geographically scattered teams.
- It carries with it the risk of placing too much focus on resolving issues and deflecting attention from causal links.