The word “agility” is most often associated with movement, such as in sport or dance, referring to moving quickly and easily. A second definition relates to the ability to think and draw conclusions quickly. Both definitions come together in business when complex systems and the dynamics of real-time interactions play out.
Organizations that perform best are those that absorb the environment, adapt their thinking to new input, and adjust plans to avoid the barriers preventing success.
High performing, agile organizations, just like world class sports teams, follow a playbook. They plan, implement, observe, measure, and then constantly adjust to meet disruptions and accommodate new learning.
Firefighting is NOT a plan. Agility comes from knowing the rhythm at which work is performed. Standard work is the basis of this kind of planning. Standard work, like a football playbook, creates consistent, repeatable processes. Standard work puts your whole team on the same page. When you have standard work you can measure against standards so the whole team can easily determine when there are disruptions, and work together, from the same basis, to find solutions.
Standard work is one tool that agile organizations use to build awareness of what is expected and who is accountable for what. That kind of organizational alignment engages people in the processes so that they can respond quickly and nimbly to the challenges that inevitably arise.