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Obeya Strategy and Experience at Carolinas HealthCare System

Michael E Johnston, Vice President, Carolinas HealthCare System, Charlotte, NC, USA

Co-Speaker: Mr. Scott Jones

Keywords: Obeya, HealthCare, Leadership

Industry: Healthcare

Level: Advanced


Carolinas HealthCare System is one of the leading health care organizations in the Southeast and one of the most comprehensive public, not-for-profit systems in the nation. The System, with 62,000 employees, owns or manages 39 hospitals, serving nearly 12 million patients per year at more than 900 care locations. The Performance Excellence Center team delivers transformational strategies through lean education and leadership development throughout the organization. Institutional “spread” is accomplished through the Lean Leadership Development Program, Lean Certification Program, and facility engagements. Creating a culture of lean thinkers is the cornerstone of our work. Our team of experienced lean professionals are assigned to facilities and departments through our focused engagement strategy.

The Obeya strategy at Carolinas HealthCare System serves to engage all process improvement teams in one room at the same time to report out, exchange ideas, and share information. The literal meaning of Obeya – big room – suggests that size is important. More important than size is the impact of quality standard work supported by teams of leaders and front line teammates. The key feature of Obeya is the Socratic method for inquiry and understanding. Obeya at CHS, led by a facility executive, has become a beacon for teams to gather, learn, and share insights.

Learning Objectives

After this session, attendees should be able to:

i.                   Understand importance of Obeya, a cross-functional communication and management tool;

ii.                 Leverage existing visual management to create an Obeya environment;

iii.              Use Obeya to engage teammates at all levels, from senior executives to the front line.

Interactive Element

During the course of the presentation, we will pose questions or cases to the audience for processing at their tables, and reporting out at the end of the time allowed.


  • Delivery of care designed around the patient
  • Transparency of performance (quality and cost)
  • Payment and incentives based upon value and outcomes
  • Transformation House Link
  • Customer value, management system, leadership behaviors, purpose, value and principles

Participating Organizations at the Lean & Six Sigma  World Conference

Government Agencies

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  • Pentagon
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  • United States Army Corps of Engineers


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