Fertilisation croisée

Quand l’industrie inspire le monde des services : illustration par l’ANDON

Most quality tools and  technics come from the Manufacturing industry. In that article, I will present a way to adapt the manufacturing ANDON tool in Services by setting Crisis Management.

Back to the definition first. ANDON “refers to a signaling system used to call for help when an abnormal condition is recognized » - see that link for a more complete description.

The key steps here are :

  1. the recognition of a abnormal issue as regards to production, meaning we previously sorted it out among the other issues - the ones that could be handled without extra-help
  2. the notification triggering - often set as an ANDON chord beeing pulled down
  3. the broadcasting of the information - visual systems such as color lights (see picture)
  4. the setting of some ad hoc operations to solve the issue, often stopping the production up to the resolution.

In summary, you have in ANDON the following core activities : to inform widely, to stop normal activity and to set specific operations until the problem is fixed.

In the service business, a specific focus is set on meeting customer demands and optimizing the perception of the services. In that respect, any customer complaint may be perceived as an abnormal issue, as described in step 1 above. That is why some people infer to “customer ANDON chord” : see e.g. Pete Abilla’s excellent topic about Jeff Bezos, Amazon.

So one way to adapt manufacturing ANDON in Services is to set some kind of ANDON Customer Care.

Another way is to set Services Crisis Management. Once again, let us check the way Crisis Management is commonly defined. Follow that link for a range of definitions. Additionnaly, I kindly suggest you recall the last time you went into a crisis, specifically in the service business. 

In practical, 

  • A service crisis comes after an escalation process : identify and notify. This is pretty much ANDON step 1 and 2 as given above. A crisis may arise from a customer complaint, but hopefully not every customer complaint triggers a crisis. If It does, it’s high time you did something about it. 
  • A service crisis is widely communicated within the company. In the service business, we seldom have color lights – though I personally designed and set such devices in IT, but that’s a horse of a different colour. However, ask operational guys within a service company if they know about the ongoing crisis? They do most of the times! That is ANDON step 3.
  • Finally, during a service crisis, specific organization or operations are set up until resolution. How often do you get the following from a collaborator “Sorry I can’t help you by now. I am on the XXX crisis. I don’t know yet when I can get back to you.” It means the normal service production has been stopped, and specific operations are being carried out. This is ANDON step 4.

As a conclusion, a way to implement ANDON in Services is to deploy  Crisis Management.  As demonstrated, both ways share the same core activities : to inform widely, to stop normal activity, and to set specific operations until the issue is fixed.