SAFe and Obeya: A Game-Changer in Strategy Execution

By Published On: March 19, 2024
Bertus Groenewegen

Authors of this article: Bertus Groenewegen, Obeya Coach, and Ron van Vliet, Release Train Engineer at a.s.r./AEGON

SAFe and Obeya: A Game-Changer in Strategy Execution

In the complex landscape of modern organizations, effective strategy execution is essential for achieving competitive advantage and realizing business objectives. The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) provides a structured approach for scaling and coordinating Agile practices at the enterprise level. Obeya is a visual management concept that emphasizes transparency and collaboration where you connect strategy to execution. Although Obeya isn’t (yet) part of the SAFe framework, the use of Obeya and SAFe can contribute to improved strategy execution. Below, we will share our learnings how Obeya became our game-changer by describing our four mentioned success factors as we experienced in using Obeya within our SAFe Agile Release Trains (ART/departments) within Aegon Netherlands.

Obeya - one board to rule them all

Apply Visual Management: Delivery & Performance is visually connected to Strategy

Before working with Obeya we used the standard SAFe practices like the Planning Board and the Measure & Growth metrics, but as separate practices. Since the use of the visual management instrument Obeya, the actual work is now directly visually linked to our organization’s strategic direction and associated performance metrics. This enabled our teams to quickly respond and take action when metrics deviated from desired goals. Through visual indicators, our teams could monitor work performance in real-time and make adjustments as needed to continue pursuing our strategic objectives. By connecting delivery and performance to strategy the use of Obeya added value for us to SAFe by providing the performance metrics and the actual work in one overview.

Obeya Applying Visual Management

Optimize rhythm and routine to improve strategy execution

With using SAFe we also held the SAFe events, like the ART/PO Sync, Scrum of Scrums and the Inspect & Adapt. In our ART/PO Sync in which we discussed progress of feature delivery, scope, priority adjustments, impediments, risks and dependencies. Due to the financial products and the organizational complexity of Aegon Netherlands legacy policies and practices, this led to urgent and burning issues. Discussing these issues in the ART/PO Sync meant there was less/little time for discussing the import things like progress and how this progress contributed to our strategy execution.

Inspired by the Leading With Obeya method we have split the ART/PO Sync into three different Sync meeting with each a different focus and meeting routine:

1. Focus on short term, urgent and burning issues at least twice a week

2. Focus on delivery progress, dependencies & impediments, held bi-weekly

3. Focus on system/train performance, held bi-weekly

Obeya - inspect and adapt the system

By doing so we could stop with a lot of additional, unneeded and duplicate meetings. The updated ART Sync events were now effective and relevant for all attendees, which resulted in highly engaged and energetic meetings. Since these meetings were now actual effective “inspect & adapt” meetings, the needed information was visualized and updated, so informed decision could be made. The need of sending out additional communication via e-mail or digital messages declined tremendously, since problem discovery en mitigation was now done in the Obeya.

Overall, the optimized rhythm and routines resulted in more focus and time on the execution of the strategic plan. We shifted from reactive fire-fighting to collaboratively brainstorming about solutions and defined actions to support plan execution. This helped to rapidly respond to changing circumstances and maintain progress towards strategy execution.

Cascading and connecting strategy throughout the Organization

We visualized the whole system in the digital Obeya per ART based on the company and IT strategy. Within every Obeya you could see the same strategic Themes:

  1. Customer Satisfaction (Value Delivery)
  2. Employee Engagement
  3. Security & Compliancy
  4. Reliability
  5. Time to learn (market)
  6. Finance
Obeya - cascading
This helped to make transparent how each department was contributing to the strategy and since it wasn’t a document on SharePoint, teams could actually see and contribute to the strategy execution. Through cascading, both upward and downward in the organization, strategic goals and initiatives are communicated and executed in a structured manner at all levels of the organization. This promoted alignment across different departments and ensured that everyone contributes to achieving overarching strategic objectives.


The combination of the SAFe Framework and using the visual management instrument Obeya, offers a powerful approach to improve strategy execution through visualization, focus, responsiveness, and alignment within the organization. By providing a shared understanding of strategic goals, directly linking work to metrics and strategic capabilities, maintaining focus on plan execution, and facilitating cascading of strategy, Obeya can assist organizations in effectively realizing their strategic objectives. It grows a culture of relentless improvement by seeing, learning and acting together: Strategy Executed Together!

Obeya - see act and learn together
Bertus Groenewegen

Author: Bertus Groenewegen, Obeya Coach

Bertus is a dedicated Obeya coach who facilitates meaningful conversations and fosters collaboration to help individuals and businesses achieve their highest potential. Guided by values of purpose, energy, and positivity, he empowers others to shape ambitions, develop strategic capabilities, and cultivate a shared commitment to meaningful goals.

Author: Ron van Vliet, Release Train Engineer at a.s.r./AEGON

Ron works as Release Train Engineer (RTE) within Aegon since March 2020. As RTE Ron is responsible for relentless improvement and therefor constantly working on enabling the teams in his Agile Release Train in creating more value for their customers faster. From his commitment to relentless improvement Ron started using Obeya within his Release Train at the beginning of 2023.

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