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From the Lean Lexicon 5th Edition:

Obeya:   Obeya in Japanese means simply “big room.  ” At Toyota it has become a major project-management tool, used especially in product development, to enhance effective and timely communication. Similar in concept to traditional “war rooms,” an obeya will contain highly visual charts and graphs depicting program timing, milestones and progress to date, and countermeasures to existing timing or technical problems. Project leaders will have desks in the obeya as will others at appropriate points in the program timing. The purpose is to ensure project success and shorten the PDCA cycle. More »
How A Virtual Obeya Can Enable Effective Teamwork
By: Katrina Appell | April 9, 2020
Columns
With the pandemic forcing organizations to adapt to new, socially distant working arrangements, we need to create systems that help people collaborate to solve problems, says Katrina Appell. Here she details effective ways to use a virtual obeyas. More »
What are the key factors within an obeya room?
By: Michael Ballé | June 10, 2019
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: On YouTube and in books there is a lot about A3 storyboards. Did you ever see them used to share people's plans and check whether countermeasures were effective? Also, what do you think are the key ingredients/factors within an obeya? More »
Why don't I see any significant performance improvement from obeya rooms?
By: Michael Ballè | May 22, 2018
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: We’ve deployed obeyas all across our organization, but I can’t see any significant improvement in our results. We can better see which teams perform and which don’t, but the good teams stay good and the poor ones poor and I’m not sure the increased performance is worth the effort. Are we doing something wrong? More »
How Do I Tell Good Obeya Rooms From Bad?
By: Michael Ballé | January 3, 2018
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: Obeyas are popping up everywhere in our organization, and I don’t know what to look for to distinguish good from bad obeyas. More »
How Obeya Improved Our Product Development Efforts
By: Andy Houk | August 15, 2017
Columns
As a followup to John Drogosz's piece on the stages of obeya from last week, Andy Houk, a client of John's at TechnipFMC, discusses how an obeya room that John helped them set up affects their work today. More »
Developing Your Obeya, Stage-by-Stage
By: John Drogosz | August 2, 2017
Columns
In his years as a LPPD coach, John Drogosz has seen that "most teams do go through several stages of evolution before obeya becomes an embedded ritual.  " Find out what they are. More »
Is your obeya room used for real learning or as a glorified action plan?
By: Ballé, Michael | September 28, 2015
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: How can I use an obeya for learning rather than for project management? More »
How do I set up an obeya room?
By: Ballé, Michael | January 12, 2015
Columns; eLetters; Emails
Dear Gemba Coach: I’d like to set up an obeya room – where should I start? What’s the simplest way to do it? More »
Inside the Lean Transformation Summit Obeya
By: Joshua Rapoza | October 28, 2014
Columns
Josh Rapoza, Customer Strategy Officer at LEI, breaks down the 2015 Lean Transformation Summit process and shares his story of building the Summit obeya room. More »
A Variety of Perspectives is Good for your Products
By: Kevin Nolan | February 15, 2021
Articles
Why your team's diversity of thought improves your product development process. More »
Development is a Team Sport
By: Jim Morgan | February 15, 2021
Articles
Jim Morgan shares the stories of three teams (Schilliung Robotics being the first) who’ve used and benefitted by adopting these practices.    More »
The Healing Power of Lean Product and Process Development in Healthcare
By: Chet Marchwinski and Paul Paliani | July 17, 2020
Columns
Can Lean Product and Process Development or LPPD, which evolved in the automotive industry, work in healthcare? Paul Paliani, who worked for almost 20 years as an automotive engineer and now leads a healthcare innovation team, offers insights and results. More »
“Too much, Too early” and other Common Pitfalls of Lean Product Development
By: Eric Ethington, Chet Marchwinski and Matt Zayko | June 29, 2020
Columns
Veteran product development coaches Eric Ethington and Matt Zayko provide insights about the most common mistakes they see companies make when implementing Lean Product and Process Development (LPPD). More »
Exploring the Technical and Nontechnical Challenges of Being a Chief Engineer, a Candid Conversation with Two CEs (Part 2)
By: Chet Marchwinski | June 8, 2020
Columns
Chief engineers typically have strong technical skills to effectively lead and manage the work of engineers, designers, and other developers. But perhaps their greatest talent needs to be nontechnical, an observation that emerged in this interview with two chief engineers from TechnipFMC, conducted by LEI Communications Director Chet Marchwinski at last year’s Designing the Future Summit. More »
Exploring the Technical and Nontechnical Challenges of Being a Chief Engineer, A Candid Conversation with Two CEs (Part 1)
By: Chet Marchwinski | June 1, 2020
Columns
Chief engineers typically have strong technical skills to effectively lead and manage the work of engineers, designers, and other developers. But perhaps their greatest talent needs to be nontechnical, an observation that emerged in this interview with two chief engineers from TechnipFMC, conducted by LEI Communications Director Chet Marchwinski at last year’s Designing the Future Summit. More »
Exploring the Technical and Nontechnical Challenges of Being a Chief Engineer, A Candid Conversation with Two CEs
By: Chet Marchwinski | May 31, 2020
Articles
Chief engineers typically have strong technical skills to effectively lead and manage the work of engineers, designers, and other developers. But perhaps their greatest talent needs to be nontechnical, an observation that emerged in this interview with two chief engineers from TechnipFMC, conducted by LEI Communications Director Chet Marchwinski at last year’s Designing the Future Summit. More »
Grit, PDCA, Lean and other four-letter words
By: Josh Howell | December 10, 2019
Columns; eLetters
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the nature of what author Angela Duckworth calls Grit. She defines grit as a sort of mash-up between passion and perseverance. What I’ve been thinking about is the way that grit overlaps with lean thinking and the sustained work of applying PDCA over many cycles over a sustained period of time. More »
Join the Conversation and Stop the Rework
By: Jim Womack | May 9, 2019
Columns; eLetters
In the spring of 1997, as I was starting the nonprofit Lean Enterprise Institute, I visited a company that I hoped would be a founding sponsor. I explained to the senior leadership that a lean enterprise was far more than a brilliant production organization, as had they assumed. It was also a brilliant product development organization including a brilliant production process design team. More »
How can I help middle managers handle contradictory instructions from top management?
By: Michael Ballé | April 22, 2019
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: As a lean coach, how can I help middle-managers who are faced with contradictory instructions from top management? More »
Is value engineering just about cutting costs?
By: Michael Ballé | March 4, 2019
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: My boss has hired a consultant to do value engineering, who has us looking for design opportunities to reduce the costs of components and materials – is that it? More »
What do you do when your advice is wrong?
By: Michael Ballé | December 24, 2018
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: How do you handle it when you find out you’ve been wrong; when you’ve advised people to do something that you later discover wasn’t right? More »
Designing the Future
By: James M. Morgan, Jeffrey K. Liker | October 26, 2018
Books
Morgan and Liker go beyond broad generalizations on how to “be innovative” and dig deeper into the theoretical bedrock and concrete development practices that are generating exceptional results at pioneering LPPD companies. Examples in the book show specifically how companies are redesigning product development systems to consistently design and deliver a progression of market-leading products and services.    More »
Will changing the standard for supervisors' morning gemba walks make them pay more attention?
By: Michael Ballé | September 24, 2018
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach,  We have a standard gemba walk for supervisors to check their areas every morning. I’ve noticed that after a while, they tick the box without really looking. Should I change the standard? More »
Why does visual management at a Toyota plant look so much different than at ours?
By: Michael Ballé | September 3, 2018
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: We have been deploying lean visual management in my company for a while now, and I am troubled because I finally visited a Toyota plant and found far fewer boards and papers on the walls than we use – we seem to cover every surface. It made me wonder whether we’re doing this right. More »
Why haven't lean tools changed our culture?
By: Michael Ballé | July 30, 2018
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: I’m part of a team that has been tasked to implement lean tools across the company to drive continuous improvement actions, and yet I see little overall change in our culture. I read about cases where lean works and wonder what we could be doing wrong. More »
Seeing the Work of a Daily Management System
By: Michael Ballé | April 18, 2018
Columns
Daily management systems tap visual elements that expose problems, and also use obeyas as thinking spaces for reflecting on broader challenges, says Michael Balle. More »
When should we do an A3 or use a different problem-solving tool?
By: Michael Ballè | November 12, 2017
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: I would really appreciate your perspective on the following: (1) When should we do an A3 for something vs. when would it be appropriate to just use an idea board? (2) What is the difference between a problem and an idea? More »
Why don't you use plain English instead of confusing Japanese terms such as “monozukuri” or “hitozukuri”?
By: Ballé, Michael | July 17, 2017
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: Why do you keep using confusing Japanese terms such as “monozukuri” or “hitozukuri” rather than plain English? Isn’t that what professionals do when they want to obfuscate and befuddle clients? More »
Is there a lean way of delegating?
By: Michael Ballè | March 3, 2017
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: I’m an entrepreneur and I used to micromanage everything, quite successfully. Now the firm has grown and I’m trying to delegate. How do I stop myself from cutting in when the actions my department heads want to take are plain silly, or not very creative? More »
Should value-stream mapping come before 5S?
By: Michael Ballè | January 19, 2017
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: Shouldn’t VSM come before 5S so we see the whole picture first? More »
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