PULL THE ANDON CORD
The andon cord is a very simple system developed by Toyota quality teams to ensure that when there is a problem, everyone is alerted to it and the right actions are taken.
The way it works on a production line is a literal red coloured cord that goes through each work station. Anywhere along the line if any worker sees a significant issue they can pull the cord and the entire assembly line will stop. This brings urgency to the issue immediately and attention to fixing the issue. It also prevents the issue from becoming bigger and saves cost for the organisation.
Do you have an Andon Cord in your organisation ?
A method to stop the work on a product or project if there is a significant issue. A red alert system to immediately share the issue with everyone. This can be an emergency meeting that can be called by anyone in the team or an email with a specific title that can be sent to the leadership team or the CEO or some other such method.
Its vitally important to first develop this system and then to make sure everyone in the organisation knows about it. It also gives permission to everyone to call out the issue and raise concerns.
This system once implemented fixes the smallest of issues with urgency and speed. Most companies and production plants do not have such a system. As a result even when someone spots an issue, they do not know how to raise it or worse feel ashamed or embarrassed to raise a problem.
Industrial disasters happen precisely because small issues are not addressed on time by the person closest to the issue and they keep getting worse until they boil over one day.
Product launch failures often reach the stage of delistment because there is no red alert system to highlight the issue as it is happening.
Be proactive. Implement an Andon Cord in your business. Watch how pulling it makes things get better, correct errors early and build a culture of confident escalation in the organisation.