Obeya in project management: Collaboration Redefined

Obeya in project management: Collaboration Redefined

Imagine walking into a room where the walls seem to be alive. Information flows seamlessly from one point to another and everyone in the room is up to date without a word being lost. Collaboration is intuitive and decisions are made at lightning speed. Welcome to the Obeya room – the heart of a revolutionary approach to project management.
In this blog post, we’ll dive deep into the world of Obeya, explore its origins and benefits, and show you how to use this powerful tool in your project management. Prepare to take your projects to a new level of collaboration and efficiency!

What is Obeya?

Obeya, which means “large space” in Japanese, is more than just a physical location. It is a concept that takes transparency, efficiency, and teamwork to a new level. Obeya has its roots in the lean philosophy and was originally developed by Toyota in the 1990s. The concept originated as part of Toyota Production Systems (TPS), which aims to maximize efficiency and minimize waste.
The idea behind Obeya was to create a centralized space where all relevant information about a project is visible and accessible. In this space, teams meet regularly to monitor progress, identify problems, and make quick decisions. The physical proximity and visual representation of data significantly improve communication and collaboration. Obeya can be used not only for project status reporting but also for strategy meetings, planning sessions, or problem-solving.
The Obeya space was first used in the development of the Toyota Prius to manage the complex and innovative nature of this project. The successful implementation led to the concept being transferred to other areas and projects. Today, Obeya is used in many industries around the world to manage projects more efficiently and promote teamwork.

Advantages of Obeya

Obeya offers a variety of benefits that can significantly improve project management. For example, Obeya helps with communication as team members meet regularly in the Obeya room to discuss progress and solve problems. The continuous updating of the room and the visual design also support understanding and the flow of information within the team and ensure greater transparency. At the same time, the constant availability of all necessary data and the close collaboration in the room mean that well-founded decisions can be made quickly so that problems can be solved promptly, efficiently, and in a results-oriented manner.

Setting up an Obeya room

Before you can start with Obeya, it is first important to set up the space for it. This can be a physical space that is centrally located and large enough to accommodate all team members. If this is not possible, it can also be a virtual room. It must be said, however, that Obeya works better when all employees come together in one place. To set up the Obeya room perfectly, you should first define the purpose for which it is to be used so that you can then optimally equip the room with important content. The room is often divided according to the PDCA cycle. This means that it is divided into four areas Plan, Do, Check, and Act. However, the different areas should be adapted to the defined purpose of the Obeya room and the respective requirements. It may be that a completely different division with more than four areas is necessary. This could, for example, involve content such as objectives, project status, task management, performance measurement, risk management, or problem-solving and decisions.
In each of these areas, all the information required for the respective step is then visualized in planned areas or wall sections. If these areas are walked through during the Obeya meeting, the prepared information is shared and the participants can carry out the necessary actions.

Key contents

Each of the areas should visually present all the necessary information, facts, and figures. In project management, for example, this can be done using project schedules and milestones, the most important key performance indicators (KPIs), a risk overview, or problem-solving and decision-making protocols. These can be added to the respective area on digital displays, posters, labels, or even sticky notes and can be presented as diagrams, infographics, bar charts, roadmaps, or customer journeys, for example. If you also want to enable participants to note down thoughts or suggested solutions for the respective area, it helps to provide a whiteboard or additional sticky notes.

Roles at Obeya

  • Obeya Master: The Obeya Master is a key role in the Obeya room that is comparable to the role of a Scrum Master in agile teams. This person sets up the Obeya room, leads the meetings, ensures a structured process, and that all necessary information and visualizations are available. This role is often also taken on by the project manager.
  • Studio members: Studio members are the team members who regularly work in the Obeya room and take part in the Obeya meetings. They can be information providers, decision-makers, members of a project team, or experts. The Studio Members contribute relevant information, help to solve problems, and implement the measures decided in the Obeya room.

In project management, an Obeya team usually consists of the project manager and their core team. In addition, other stakeholders can also regularly participate to contribute information and be informed about the project at the same time. Depending on requirements, technical experts can also be brought in to discuss specific topics with them.

Obeya Meetings

Once the room is equipped with all the necessary information and all the relevant people have been invited, the first meetings can be started. Approximately one hour can be scheduled for an Obeya run-through. However, it is important to hold these meetings regularly. Depending on the project, they can therefore take place once a quarter, once a month, or once per sprint. Depending on the project requirements, it may also make sense to hold short daily, weekly, or ad hoc meetings to discuss the current status and solve minor problems immediately.
At the first meeting, the Obeya master should explain the basics, rules, and process so that all team members understand the method. The Obeya master then guides the participants through the individual areas of the room. The respective information is presented and, if necessary, discussed, or decisions are made.


In a room layout based on the PDCA cycle, the first section, “Plan”, contains the strategic goals, for example, and the team, customers or clients are introduced. In the “Do” section, the current status of the project can be assessed. The third section, “Check”, compares the objectives with the implementation in order to identify deviations and solve problems, make decisions and define measures in the fourth step, “Act”.


The Obeya Room is revolutionizing project management by redefining transparency, efficiency, and collaboration. The visual presentation of information and the physical proximity of team members means that decisions are made more quickly and problems are solved promptly. This approach, rooted in a lean philosophy and proven in practice, enables teams to manage projects more effectively and continuously improve.

For a seamless integration of Obeya into your project management, you can also use project management software such as myPARM. The software offers comprehensive functions for visualizing project information and supports efficient collaboration in your team through integrated task management, so that you can take full advantage of Obeya.

Learn more about the project and portfolio management software myPARM:

Would you like to get to know myPARM in a demo presentation? Then make an appointment with us right away!

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