What Is an Andon Cord?

The Andon cord is a cord or button that workers can activate to stop production and alert management if there are any significant issues. The production line will not produce any defective units as they work to fix the problem.

Amazon Customer Service Andon Cord

Andon Cord is also a metaphor used by some Web Scale organizations of today.

Jeff Bezos described the Customer Service Andon Cord in, a letter he wrote to Amazon’s shareholders, back in 2013. It was a long-standing practice to metaphorically pull an Andon Cord whenever they saw a customer overpaying for a product or service.

Amazon would scan their systems heuristically looking for this type of customer service mismatch. Amazon viewed these as defects because its vision was to be a customer-centric organization. If the service was not up to par, they would refund the customer without asking.

This has happened to me a few times when I watched a movie through Amazon Prime. The next day, I received an email saying they had refunded the cost of my movie rental due to its poor quality. The Andon Cord was also pulled when they identified areas where a customer might be able to save money. Amazon often reduces the price of its Cloud Services, despite their service being considered superior to that of their nearest competitor.

This is an example of Kata being used in the real world to drive Amazon toward its stated vision.

Bezos begins his shareholder’s letter with the following: “Our passion at Amazon is driven by the desire to please customers, not the drive to beat competitors”. Jeff Bezos has a list of 12 recommended books, and two are The Goal written by Eliyahu Goldratt, and lean thinking written by James Womack. The Goal, in fact, is one of three books that he requires all of his executives to read.