The term Andon is a Japanese word that describes the process used by Toyota in its manufacturing assembly lines that is used to alert and notify all personnel involved in the manufacturing process that a quality problem has occurred. The key component of the alerting process is the physical device; a cord that can be pulled when a problem is identified. The cornerstone of this approach is in the empowerment of each front-line individual on the assembly line to take action and stop the complete production line when they identify a problem. Even more so, the assembly line remains stopped until the problem is rectified.
By granting authority to each individual on the assembly line to stop the production line, Toyota has increased the quality of the vehicles that are produced, which has in turn enabled the company to steadily gain a larger share of the automobile market.
Many organizations are starting to follow the Andon cord principle to improve their operations. Amazon uses this concept to remove products from sellable inventory if it has been tagged problematic more than a few times. Amazon service agents are empowered to remove the product from the Amazon website making it unavailable to customers until the problem has been fixed.
I believe that all companies should embrace the Andon cord principle and make it an integral part of their corporate culture. The company in turn will enjoy the associated windfall of benefits that are derived by empowering all employees to be on guard to spot and alert for potential problems early on which will yield the best outcomes for the company.