The process of A3 is about developing every single person in your organization to identify improvement opportunities, lead a team of 2-4 of their peers through a disciplined learning cycle (plan-do-check-act or define-measure-analyze-improve-control) to implement changes, and then share what they've done with their peers at weekly scheduled "closings". Companies I work with tally thousands of these improvements each year. Think of the process as load leveling your way toward flow by constantly attacking the 8 wastes that live amongst us. Companies that get really good at this have dozens of these active opportunities on their A3 board at all times.
When I ask people who lead dozens of A3s every year why they do it, I always get the same answer! "Because it's fun!" Simple as that. If you really think about it, there are many reasons why I always get this answer. Here are 3 off the top of my head!
First, there is the concept of "losing time". When we are fully engaged in any activity we love, our mind is at peace, and we literally can lose complete track of time. Maybe it is when you are playing guitar or working in the yard. Maybe it's when you are officiating a football game or reading a good book. Or, maybe it is doing your job at work and you are completely on top of your game! Have you ever been at work and you look up and it's lunch time? That is "losing time". What interferes with losing time is constantly having to deal with interruptions, defects, rework, waiting, doing redundant wasteful steps, etc. in other words, the 8 wastes! People who lead lots of A3s are making their job better!
The second reason lean is fun goes back to Maslow's Hierarchy of human needs. After air, food and water is satisfied, then we need security. Once that is taken care or, we all yearn for meaningful relationships. Onward and upward like this to the top of Maslow's pyramid. The point is you can't move up until the level you are on is satisfied. What is at the top of the pyramid? Self-actualization, creativity and problem solving! It is knowing that we are in control of our own lives and are contributing!
And third, we find real satisfaction and fulfillment doing things we believe we are pretty good at! For example learning and practicing the piano is not always fun. But when we get good at it and people keep begging us to play and clap like crazy when we do.....it's fun! Same with refereeing college football (some coaches might disagree with my self-assessment) and yes, getting pretty good at the sport of lean/A3.
A3 is not about a form, and lean is not simply about eliminating waste and implementing some tools. It is about collectively building a better quality of life and respect for people for all. And in the process.....joy!!!!