The Andon Cord

Anyone in the product chain can pull the Andon Cord to stop production when he notices that the product’s quality is poor.

The andon cord

Stopping a system when a defect is suspected originates back to Toyota. The idea is that by blocking the system, you get an immediate opportunity for improvement or find a root cause instead of letting the defect move further down the line and be unresolved.

A crucial aspect of Toyota’s “Andon Cord” process was that when the team leader arrived at the workstation, they thanked the team member who pulled the Cord.

The incident would not be a paper report or a long-tail bureaucratic process. The problem would be immediately addressed, and the team member who pulled the cord would fix it.

For software systems, this practice is beneficial as well. However, the opposite process is likely the practice we see in our drive for quick results.

We don’t stop the process in case of issues. We apply a quick fix, and ‘we will resolve it later’.

The person noticing an issue is regarded as a whistle-blower. Issues may get covered in this culture, leading to even more severe problems.

When serious issues occur, we start a bureaucratic process that quickly becomes political, resulting in watered-down solutions and covering up the fundamental problems.

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