Why Sam Morgan Loves Lean (and Kata) and How He Helps Others Be Confident Learners


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Joining me for Episode #457 of the Lean Blog Interviews Podcast is Sam Morgan.

Sam is a self-proclaimed “confident learner” and earlier this year after 5 years of practice in the continuous improvement space he landed at KataCon, a conference for continuous improvement professionals who practice the Toyota Kata.  

At KataCon, he had a powerful moment realizing where his true passion lies: transforming people through coaching. I'll ask Sam more about that. Sam finds joy in seeing his clients move from fearful to fearless; from insecure to confident. 

I know Sam as the host of the YouTube series “C.I. in 5” and he's been part of a learning and collaboration group called “The Lean Communicators.

His newly launched coaching website is www.illuminatecoach.com. You can also find him on LinkedIn.

Today, we discuss topics and questions including:

  • How, when, and where did you first get introduced to continuous improvement concepts and methods?
  • How did you get introduced to Toyota Kata?
  • What does it mean to be a “confident learner”?
  • Adam Grant's book Think Again
  • Why “Sam Loves Lean” as an email account and account name?
  • We turn the tables on Sam to ask him his “C.I. in 5”
  • What is your C.I. in 5? – “confident learning for all”
  • Tell me about your t-shirt… and for those who are listening via podcast instead of watching via YouTube
  • Respect for people
  • Intentionally focusing on inviting guests who are women of color? And people of color more broadly…
  • “There's not that many Black faces in attendance at Lean conferences, yet alone up on stage,… in what way does systemic racism cause that? What can we, what should we do about that?”
  • Being welcoming vs. expanding the pool?
  • Company representation in CI roles?
  • What is your “Illuminate U” program?

The podcast is sponsored by Stiles Associates, now in their 30th year of business. They are the go-to Lean recruiting firm serving the manufacturing, private equity, and healthcare industries. Learn more.

This podcast is part of the #LeanCommunicators network

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Automated Transcript (Not Guaranteed to be Defect Free)

Announcer (1s):
Welcome to the Lean Blog Podcast. Visit our website www.leanblog.org. Now here's your host, Mark Graban.

Mark Graban (10s):
Hi, it's Mark Graban. Welcome to episode 457 of the podcast. It's September 21st, 2022. My guest today is Sam Morgan. You're gonna learn more about him in a minute. You might know him if you've attended Katacon you might know him from his YouTube series “CI in 5.” It's a great conversation with Sam here today about continuous improvement and coaching and inclusion. You know, how do we include everybody in continuous improvement? How do we have more diversity and representation in attendance at lean conferences yet alone on stage? We talk about a lot of, I think, interesting and important issues today.

Mark Graban (53s):
So if you'd like to learn more about Sam, you can look for links in the show notes, or go to leanblog.org/457. Welcome back to the podcast. My guest today, joining us from Vancouver. Washington is Sam Morgan. Sam is a self-proclaimed confident learner. I love this. So we're gonna talk about that for sure. And earlier this year, after five years of practice, I love that you use that word also practice in continuous improvement. He ended up at the KataCon event. I'm sure a lot of, you know, a conference for continuous improvement professionals who practice the Toyota kata.

Mark Graban (1m 33s):
And it was at that event. And we'll, we'll hear about this in Sam's zone words, he had a powerful moment realizing he had a true passion around helping people, transforming people through coaching. And so we'll be talking about that today. Also, I know Sam a little bit, we've talked before and we he's been part of what I would call the learning and collaboration group. We call it lean communicators. And I know him as the host, as you may know, as well of the YouTube series, “CI in Five.” So we're gonna flip the tables on Sam a little bit. He has a newly launched website, www.illuminatecoach.com.

Mark Graban (2m 14s):
So that's enough of my rambling and intro Sam, welcome to the podcast. How are you?

Sam Morgan (2m 19s):
Great Mark. Thanks for having me. I'm excited to be here.

Mark Graban (2m 23s):
So it's gonna be a fun discussion here today. You have a lot going on. There's a lot that you've done. And again, you know, we're gonna do a “CI in five” with you. Did you, have you ever turned the tables on yourself in your own series?

Sam Morgan (2m 37s):
I've never done it on my myself, but I I've often reflected on like, what would, what would I say if that were the question? So I'll that and how that goes,

Mark Graban (2m 52s):
This is like the times when I get asked, kind to another podcast, what's my favorite mistake…

Sam Morgan (2m 60s):
Right. Right. Exactly. Exactly.

Mark Graban (3m 2s):
So it'll be five words, five minutes. We'll do that as sort of a mini episode within the episode, but Sam, the, the, the one standard question that I ask people here, it would be great to hear your origin story with continuous improvement. You know, kind some of the details of, of how, when, where, why, you know, when, when did you get introduced to all of this?

Sam Morgan (3m 24s):
Yeah. You know, I, I have to say that like my origin story actually starts like back when I was a kid. Like if I think now about what I've learned about continuous improvement, I think years when I really wanted this robot tape recorder, I think it was called Tomy. Tomy was a blue tape recorder with like colorful buttons. And I was like, so stoked. I wanted this little robot for Christmas. I been like eight years old, something like that. Yeah. So when I got it, I did get for Christmas. Remember that I, of course I played the tapes in it and I to, but then I was like, Hmm, how does this thing work? And so the, like the out screwdriver took it and all resist our company that, that I work at the standard, they had a, they were rolling out lean and a couple, my coworkers were like, Hey, you should go to this Lean 101 class.

Sam Morgan (4m 31s):
I think you'd like it. And I was like, oh, okay. So I eventually made it to one and they, you know, did like the basics of what lean was. And I'm like, oh my gosh. Like from that one class, I started talking instructor afterwards, started questions, started videos, got our lean started. We had like deployment at our, like was whole management was so excited that I, to my manager was like, remember, first few weeks we started talking about the eight waste and like, we put downtime up and like, what ways are we seeing and all these things.

Sam Morgan (5m 27s):
So that's where I got my start. It just resonated with who I was from back when I was like a kid to right now. And I think about those two pillars of continuous improvement and respect for people and like how I started learning that I'm like, this all makes sense to me, why it just fits who I am. So that's like where I got started then. And then how it came back to me now. And then we can talk about how, where I'm at now and the journey from that point to here as well.

Mark Graban (5m 53s):
Yeah. So maybe the most important question when you put the robot tape recorder back together, did it work?

Sam Morgan (6m 1s):
I, I think it did. I think it did. I think I actually got the stuff to work back together cause I remembering it away and not working fascinated being the, it worked. And of course, you know, when we do continuous improve, we're always, we're concerned about the

Mark Graban (6m 34s):
Tapes kind of wordy translation of the Japanese word, Kaizen, that I've heard, you're reminding me of this. Cause there's the, the, sometimes the very direct literal translation of like good change or continuous improvement. I've also heard a wordier version. It's like to take something apart and put it back together again, maybe, you know, better than it was, or at least the same, but back to, you know, that, that intro class, you know, it sounds like, and I, and I've heard this from a lot of people, right. You know, there, there are certain people that were where, where lean principles just resonate, where, where people say, you know what, the, I didn't have the words to articulate things that I apparently felt very deeply.

Mark Graban (7m 17s):
Was that sort of the case for you?

Sam Morgan (7m 20s):
Yeah. It was like when started recognizing like all these, like all the tools from Paul Akers and he had this one, one of a colleague who dressed up in an army outfit and I was like, I'm at war with waste. And I was like, OK. But then now thinking about it now it drives me crazy. Like recycling for instance, like my wife always makes fun of me. Like when I'm like, Hey, you didn't clean the, like the food particles can't recycle this. And she's like, yeah.

Sam Morgan (7m 60s):
Okay. Like, like I, I, I can't handle waste when I see it. So now when I look back, it's like back now, like I'm my marriage and my life like waste bothered me whenever I see waste in a process or waste period. It's like, so in that way, it's like, I look back and it's just inherently like in me, like who I am. So I'm so thankful that like, it found me in a way, like, yeah. And it, you know, through that process, of course I found my purpose and then I'm moving in this new direction. But it started with that, with that experience. And then like finding that it really resonated with me and who I was from when I was a kid until now and going forward.

Mark Graban (8m 43s):
Yeah. And I, I think it's better when, when we see the waste and hopefully we're in a position to do something about it. Cause like, as a customer of different organizations, you could see the waste, you could see it might be solvable, but you're not, you're not part of it. So in the work that you've done at the standard, like, can you, what's an example of, of some waste that you saw that bothered you, that you could do something about?

Sam Morgan (9m 9s):
Well, gee, I'd say like, I think for me, what I was challenged with was that there wasn't a lot of like sometimes, you know, continuous improvement movements. Like they take a while to, to jumpstart. Right. And like in our area, like we had these pieces called idea cards. And so what I would say is like the waste I, I noticed was like the waste of like talent, right? Like we weren't getting those ideas like put forward. So we had these vehicles of like creating ideas for like, Hey, we have this problem. We know how to solve it. We, we know the root cause. So we're just go run an experiment.

Sam Morgan (9m 50s):
And here's the expectation here is like, what, you know, what happened, those kind of things. And so a colleague of mine and I came up with this idea, well, why don't we do a whole like waste workshop from our lean center had this just like we just organics they're they're trying let's curriculum or this, this workshop. So people can go through it. So basically what we did is we did just very basic on like the waste let's your let's have somebody do a walk and through, and I see waste here.

Sam Morgan (10m 34s):
I see waste here. I see waste here. And then you can come up with an idea. And so we saw after that was that we had like 20 cards before that, across our operations area. And then like within a week we had, so it was just like being able to like, do that, people, that vision, that like, Hey, you just need to take this little bit of time and you come up ideas you got. Yeah. So that was like really, really cool. Cause he didn't go, huh? This vision that we had like actually came up the way we wanted it to be.

Mark Graban (11m 2s):
Yeah. Yeah. And then how did you get introduced to the Toyota Kata approach? Was that also at work or was that through your own exploration and learning?

Sam Morgan (11m 13s):
Yeah. So where that came from is I, over time, since that time I got introduced to lean, I got myself involved in lots of organizations in the Northwest. There's a ones that have lot of impact here. No. And Jennifer who's active in the community and then also lean Portland who they're they've also been in the community for over 10 years. There's like conflicts over the origin there. Yeah. A of mine who knew about my passion for S like, Hey, you should go check out lean Portland.

Sam Morgan (11m 54s):
They've got, they're always doing like classes, free classes, you know? And like opportunities was the, about my gosh, this is so fun. So I got involved with that for probably a year and a half, two years until COVID hit. And then we were doing these happy hours in different calls, like virtually. And one, one of those calls, Tracy Defore was on and she is, you know, a long time practitioner of the Toyota OG you might say. And so she was sharing on one of those calls about the cut.

Sam Morgan (12m 36s):
I was like, huh, this is interesting. And so I was like, can I go, can I come to one of your calls? I emailed her. And she's like, well, this is kind more like for people around it, but sure. Come on, show up and we'll be cool. So I showed up and at first I was like, huh, this is interesting language, dojo. And some of these other things, I'm like, what are they talking about? Like secret here. But I remember like I just kept asking questions. Like, I'd get a little more like curious. And I just asked like one question, maybe every call or every other call. And I just kind was like, eventually I got the point where I was like, I wonder how this would work just in my own like, practice. Cause I was looking to get into like a more lean centered role.

Sam Morgan (13m 19s):
And I kind got some tips from a coworker about the, but I never pursued. And so this was kinda like the foyer into that. And so then I was also working with a couple other people who were trying to grow their coaching skills and we been meeting coach each other kind like a coaching triad. Yeah. Adam Lawrence, you hi together. So like more about this practice of the last 20.

Sam Morgan (14m 16s):
And I was like, yep. I wanna start doing it and learning it. So I just jumped in, was like, Hey Julie, let's go. And so all last, you know, last year, that's when I jumped in and started learning it. And it's been my jam ever since.

Mark Graban (14m 30s):
Yeah. So you, you mentioned Adam Lawrence, he's been a guest here. I just jotted down. I need to reach out to Tracy Devoe and, and, and have her as a guest on here. Oh my God. But you know, Sam, you mentioned in your bio, there's this phrase, confident learner in what you described of saying, I wanna come to this, I wanna ask questions. It, it sounds like you were being a confident learner there. Tell, tell us more about that phrase. You know, why, what, why that's an important phrase to you?

Sam Morgan (15m 0s):
Yeah. This phrase actually hit home for me when I was I'm an avid reader, audiobook. I, I actually had worked my way up to from like one time speed to one quarter when I I'm to two, my wife thinks I'm crazy sounds, but it's my way of not wasting time. But I picked this book that was recommended to at one of the Adam Grant. Who's social scientist, wrote this book called Think Again, listen, I listened to it. And it was just like a mindblower for you're who's as it come their way.

Sam Morgan (15m 51s):
And Adam, Adam Grant, he talks about this in his book. Like he talks about being a confident learner, a humble learner. And that just resonated. And I was like, that's who I, and that's the kind people that I that's what I wanna coach people to become. And so that just like was like, yes, that is the, that is the, the language that kinda resonates for me about again, who I am, what I want people to become. I don't think it could be said any better for me.

Mark Graban (16m 24s):
And that's an interesting combination of words there to be a confident learner and a humble learner. Toyota always talks about the importance of leading with humility. And I, I think in terms of leadership and I want to hear your reactions to this, that to me, a confident leader is not afraid to say, I don't know. I'm not gonna pretend to know the answers. Let's go figure it out together. Let's experiment. Let's figure it out. There's there's some Kata type thinking there. So I'm, I'm, I'm curious, you know, if you wanna share some other thoughts here about this, this combination of confidence and humility.

Sam Morgan (17m 6s):
Yeah. I think the, the leaders that I have the most respect for and have had the best experience with are ones that are like, have a confident, like have a vision for where they wanna go, where they wanna take the organization or team. And also they're like, I don't have all the answers, right? Like you have the answers, the people who are doing the work, I just need to hear from you create an environment of like trust and safety so that you feel like you can share where those obstacles and frustrations and challenges are. And then I'm gonna do everything in my power to remove those obstacles or try something so that it can be better.

Sam Morgan (17m 46s):
And, you know, I've experienced leaders who are that way and leaders that are the opposite that are very much like the answer is what stops with me. I've got all the answers and I don't hear anything from you. You'll do what I say. Not maybe not even necessarily in words, but in the way that they show up with nonverbal and just kind of the underlying passive messages that they spend. And so I try to show up in a way and practice that it's not always easy, especially like, as, you know, even a parent, right? Like having that like, mm. Like I don't have all the answers here, but let's, we can do this together.

Sam Morgan (18m 26s):
Right. Like being that kind the way you show up in all the areas of your life, as a confident learner, I think is powerful. Right. I wanna demonstrate that to my kids so that like, I love the way that that Judah shows up. Right. Like with his trains and he just tries and experiment and like he's even using that, use that language. Right. Like he'll get frustrated. And then he like was like, okay. And then he tried something different and works. Right. So like having that, like attitude of like experimentation, trying something new fact that I, you know, posted about this recently on LinkedIn, about my daughter, who she created this whole channel, she got like 12,000 followers, which is, which is like crazy to me that somebody at 14 could do that.

Sam Morgan (19m 16s):
And then she's like, nah, I'm good. I'm done. I wanna try something else. And I was like, okay, like, sounds good. Like, what do you like? She's like this whole new art form. I wanna try. I'm like, okay, cool. Like you wanna, I had to like go of it for myself. Cause I was like thousand. You wanna? But she was like, yeah, I wanna do this other thing. And then we started doing kinda these fun videos together, like some dance videos. Like I do these videos every Saturday where I dance and then just kinda like give some inspiration and encouragement. And she's done that a couple times with me. And then I even have one of my followers. It's like, Hey Serena, you should do like a singing video. So, and she's like all, so she one and we posted about that recently.

Sam Morgan (19m 59s):
And so just this whole idea of like, not just like having this, creating a space of like confident learning and safety at work, but also like wherever we go in our communities at home, like the people that we're around, how are we showing up or are we showing up in such a way to create that kinda environment and culture? And I look at my, my kids as kinda like it's happening here. And I'm like, that makes me like happy that they're taking that on. And I hope that that continues on. I expect it will as they, as they grow.

Mark Graban (20m 33s):
Yeah. Hopefully there's not some sort of workplace that stifles that I hope they can find a workplace that continues to nurture the curiosity and the willingness to experiment and to try new things. I really, I really hope that's the case.

Sam Morgan (20m 51s):
And I, I hope like what, what Sydney, my wife and I are showing them about like trying new things. My wife's a consultant. She jumped off at beginning of COVID and here I am doing a similar thing. Like I hope we're showing them that, like, this is the kind person like demonstrating to them being an example of that. So that when they get into those spaces, they'll be like, this is my standard for the kinda place work with is the kinda, I is kinda standard. So I, I'm not up in a place that's like that. Ideally I'm gonna be looking for those kind of environments that, that cultivate that creativity and that attitude of experimentation.

Mark Graban (21m 32s):
That's great. And you mentioned your daughter, she, yeah. I think you've mentioned before she helps edit your “CI in five” videos, right?

Sam Morgan (21m 41s):
Yeah. So I took a break for a little bit. Like she was like, I've got school, I got these things. And now we're coming back around where she's like my, where I, I do these short, like maybe minute long posts, you know, maybe a couple times a week. And she was, she came back to me like, this was probably, you know, maybe a couple months ago. And she was like, dad, you remember how you, like, I used to do those videos for you. And, and I was like, yeah, I was like, can I do that again? I'm like, sure. And so, you know, I, her a little bit for every episode and she gets the experience that led to like this, this channel that she did and exploring all these creative outlet that she has.

Sam Morgan (22m 29s):
And so now she's, she's doing mine and I'm assuming she's gonna be getting her channel up and running eventually she'll be exploring that. So it's really cool to see that, that she's like embracing that. And it's cool, like offer that opportunity to her. Cause I mean, it helps me, like I don't, she can spend the time doing that and she's learning something and we have a way to connect too, as a father and daughter. So it's like a win all the way around.

Mark Graban (22m 56s):
And she does. Does she add the music and the different popup graphics and sounds right.

Sam Morgan (23m 2s):
Yeah. So we kind of changed the software. Like I changed different like program that I'm using, but she that's the one that she actually, the reason why I'm using this, like for better now this and font this way. And it's interesting because like we've had this feedback loop or she's learning like, Hey, you know, I'd like it like this, this is kinda thing. And so she's kinda to like adjust too, had this conversation of like, you know, sitting like, Hey, you might have a customer who might want something a little bit different. You gotta be like changing.

Sam Morgan (23m 43s):
Doesn't do you, it's just like an adjustment to make. And so there's like lots of cool opportunities learning for even now at 14, which I feel that's like strength and muscle and attitude, you and learning three years,

Mark Graban (24m 3s):
She's learning, practicing, experimenting. That's that's great experience. And it makes my video seem kind of stodgy. And old by a comparison. I think there's no music. There's no fun graphics and science, but that's one thing I've enjoyed. Your, your videos are very energetic that way. And, and in addition to what you're saying and what your guests are saying, so I'll encourage people, go check those out. And, and here's a clue of how much Sam dare I say, loves lean. His YouTube channel name is Sams lean

Sam Morgan (24m 36s):
That's. Right.

Mark Graban (24m 38s):
Was that, was that something where you like, oh, well, yeah, just pick something and then like, oh, oops, that's my name now?

Sam Morgan (24m 46s):
Well, it's funny when I school an email that people can like, kind of be like catchy. And I was like, well, I love radio and I wanna get a job on radio. So Sam loves radio. It's like, Hey, this is this guy, Sam who loves radio. So when I was like, starting to get more passionate about lean and then like looking for opportunities, I was like, huh, well, why don't I just kinda use that same thing. Sam loves lean clearly if you're a Sam out there and you love lean, I've got that email taken, but maybe you could do Sam loves lane too, or whatever is, but yeah.

Sam Morgan (25m 37s):
That's where came just like I did before radio and I for so that's like the email and I was like, well, just it, the, the YouTube channel and it was available. And so now, you know, that's where I, I put a lot of obviously snippets

Mark Graban (26m 6s):
Sam's email also is Samloveslean@gmail.com. You know, I've been fortunate. I can usually grab Mgraban or markgraban as a username or an email. Sam Morgan. Yeah. You're like, you would be Sam Morgan, 14, 13 X nine or something. Yeah, right.

Sam Morgan (26m 24s):
Yeah. Yeah. And actually with my new, with my new business, I've, I've got that. Like I was, I was surprised, like I was able to get an email for my, my business Illuminate Coach Sam. And so now that's where I'm like, as I'm jumping off into this new adventure, I'm kinda like switching. In fact, my wife is like, emails. Do you have is like, that's the running joke in here? Like, I've got like six different emails. She's like, so I should be practicing what I preach around my like emails and all those things know, like I've got like six we're have to like pair those down.

Mark Graban (26m 57s):
I've got multiple email addresses and they, they all flow into the same place. So it doesn't matter. But hopefully, hopefully you, your, your wife wants you to have one that says Sam loves me gmail.com.

Sam Morgan (27m 14s):
That would, that, that would be good. I'm sure. I'm sure would appreciate that. And I would probably get a fair amount of email in that inbox. Yeah.

Mark Graban (27m 24s):
So, so that website again, illuminatecoach.com check out Sam's YouTube series. CI in Five. So I am gonna like, I guess starting now do my best attempt. I've watch enough of these. I'm not gonna, I don't, I don't have your, your script memorize. I'm gonna ask you to help me out with it all. So, oh yeah. So again, CI in Five, we're gonna ask the question, Sam, are you ready to take on the challenge of describing what continuous improvement means to you in five minutes or less and in five words or less, it's kind like, I'm gonna let you say it. It's kinda like

Sam Morgan (28m 6s):
Going on at speed date. Yeah,

Mark Graban (28m 8s):
Yeah. Kinda, kinda wild, right. Or what we kinda,

Sam Morgan (28m 11s):
Yeah. And actually it's interesting, like I'm reframing that post, but now that open and close, but you know, maybe, maybe down the road, we'll that, that idea, getting other folks on there outside of like continuous improvement community, like coaches and other folks who have like, we do continuous improvement in all different areas of life. Right. And so it's great to hear that. So anyway. Yeah.

Mark Graban (28m 37s):
So that's, that has been the opening, but as Sam always says, this is gonna be good.

Sam Morgan (28m 42s):
Yeah. Right, right. Let

Mark Graban (28m 44s):
Let's do this. Right.

Sam Morgan (28m 46s):
Right. Yeah. So, so my CI in five would be confident learning for all, I suppose, because that's what

Mark Graban (28m 58s):
You got four words there, confident learning for all.

Sam Morgan (28m 60s):
There we go. Cause that's what I want for people. And I feel like, you know, my, my mission is to Bela. That's my right. And I want people to understand and know and believe in their value. And if working like, ideally I want people, whether working with me or anybody else to really develop and grow that because I really believe you can grow that and do it through practice, right. By, by regular practice of doing experiments. You're gonna learn that if you don't have to be afraid to fail, there's not, not a failure.

Sam Morgan (29m 41s):
It's just a learning. So it's just trying and experiment, seeing what you expect, what happens and what you learn and then taking that learning. And there's so more it, of course that's everybody.

Mark Graban (29m 59s):
Yeah. When you're trying to help people and you know, you talked about building confidence, whether it's through the practice of Kata. And gosh, I love hearing that word practice that, that resonates, you know, with me, we're all practicing this. Do, do you, this is a bit of a leading question, but I'll ask it this way anyway. Like do, do you help people start small? Like does, does this practice start more effectively with small experiments, small steps just to get people going or what's, what's your experience.

Sam Morgan (30m 33s):
Yeah. So my experience is actually like, I, that up improvement, right. It actually starts having a challenge. Right? Like what's the, what's the place I wanna go through that I'm trying to go to this dream or vision. Like if you're in an organization, of course, that that's different might be something that like your leader or the organization is like handed down. But like personally, what I like to do is like, get someone very clear on what's the vision you wanna get to in three months, whatever it might be and get very clear about what that is like a clear point that you can know how you're doing in relation to, you know, where you're at now and where you wanna be. Like, if I'm going on a road trip to New York City, like, Hey, I'll meet you in New York City.

Sam Morgan (31m 14s):
Okay. Well when, like what day, what time? What? Like, we need this specifics. So like get clear on that and have a reason, like why, and that should be aligning with, you know, your purpose. Yeah. Right. Like you should have a clear purpose and that would align with that. And then, you know, the next step of course, is to understanding where you're at currently graph your current condition. Like where are you at now? And be honest with it. Right. Like, we're not like, like, oh, I wish it was a, no, we need to understand where we're now. So we know like what, what the distance is between here and there. Yeah. I think of the phrase over performance, right? Like if you're running a process, you're doing something like where it's at, that's you're a target.

Sam Morgan (32m 5s):
And, and then you're running the experiment to get to that, that target that's in line with your challenge, right. On your way to your challenge. And then you're identifying obstacles or things that are getting in your way. And then that's where you're doing your little experiment. Right? So like we have that first part that's really called the planning phase, which, you know, if you're anything like me or most folks we get, we want to jump to that action part. We want to jump to those experiments, but really the experience experiments, aren't gonna be meaningful unless we actually like, get the vision, understand where we're at. Now, that little goal, then we start going, we identify the obstacles that are away. And then we just start running those little experiments. I think of it as the picture that I've, that has resonated a lot of, like, I've done half marathon, never done a full marathon someday.

Sam Morgan (32m 51s):
I will. That's like on my bucket list, I'd like to go to the Boston marathon. We'll like, obviously I'm not getting from the start line to the finish line in one step. Like, that's like, whoa, we're not gonna do that. Right. We take one step at a time. And along the way, things are gonna come up. You know, you might have like a side, right? Like you might feel a burst of energy, right? Like rain might be coming down a tree might fall the road. And like you're, and that's how I think of helping someone is that there tangible

Mark Graban (33m 33s):
Structure and is really helpful in many different settings. How'd you start your coaching business. I do you, how do you define your challenge and your target condition or challenges and target conditions?

Sam Morgan (33m 50s):
Well, it's funny because like, there's a whole story behind me for, for me

Mark Graban (33m 54s):
My timer is going off, sorry to interrupt, but see CI in five would be really hard. This is more like CI and 50 so we can keep going.

Sam Morgan (34m 2s):
Yeah. Yeah. Good. So for me, like it all started at right, like where I was coming to like share my experience. I, I had a year's worth of coaching where I worked with different people and I was sharing about this message of the power of having different perspectives, you know, men, women, people of color, like all that. And like how that learning. So there breakthrough moment for, and were sharing this message, challenges and down challenges that you're having like a personal and professional one.

Sam Morgan (34m 45s):
And so I'll never forget it. Like I wrote this, this thing down on my paper and I wrote, I don't have confidence to charge for coaching. Like that's what I wrote down on that paper. And I had this, it was that moment where your, your body like tingled, like all the way down, like, that's fine. You get that like, woo. And it was like, my body was telling me, this is something that you need to investigate. So later that for the, the, the next two days as I was there, I was just talking kinda question. And that night, that Friday, I went back to my room and I was looking in my email and I had applied for a continuous improvement position at a small financial firm in San Francisco and had three interviews felt really good.

Sam Morgan (35m 28s):
Hey, I'm an analyst at a financial firm. I'm continuous improvement, getting all the good vibes. And of course I get the rejection email. And so that night out, I went out with a lot of the I friend of mine, Mike. And I was like, what do I want people who I work with? What I want them feel? What do I like, look like, what's that picture? And the thing, like I wrote it down, I remember sitting on the waves coming in.

Sam Morgan (36m 9s):
Beautiful, beautiful. And the real piece that I wanted to feel was that worthy piece. And the day I went on, or that leader that day, I went on a plane and I was listening to this book Dare to Lead by Brene Brown. And she quotes Joseph Campbell. Who's written about the hero's journey and, and many other things, people might be familiar with the fear to answer holds the treasure you seek. And that was like, that was like, that was like the punch right there to me, like, woo, like that me, like this whole, this weekend has led to this and I need to that cave.

Sam Morgan (36m 51s):
Like, I've got all this fear coming up about like, oh, asking all these questions. Like, can I do it? So I knew right then and there, I had to pursue this like coaching. That's what I'm supposed to be doing. And so I came home, shared that with my wife, Sydney and was like, I need to do this and to help move out into that space. So I contacted Julie Simmons, she was retiring. She's like work with Gemma's one of my favorite. And so we started working together and I set a challenge for myself. I wanna have, by July 18th, I wanna have like a process for how, like, I wanna know clearly what my strengths are, who my customers are and like have a consistent process for reaching out to people and have two clients like by then so that I can like jump off on my own.

Sam Morgan (37m 43s):
Well, it's a process, just like everything else it was learning. Right. Like, and through that process, like I came to a point where I was just after like two and a half months of doing daily cycle, I was feeling this weight on me and I wasn't showing up great. Like I just wasn't feeling good physically. Like I was doing all these experiments, trying to figure out how to show up on LinkedIn, trying to do all these things. And I just like, I could sense like anger in me. I could sense all this stress in me. And I remember sitting down at a park and reflecting on it. I was doing the summary reflection, which you do after each time you do a target condition. And how I had really had been putting the performance ahead of the learning.

Sam Morgan (38m 30s):
Like I hadn't really embraced this whole idea of this whole idea of the is about the learning. It's not about like, Hey, like it's a pass fail. That's not what it's about. And I had to go through two and a half, three months of like doing experiments on my own to jump, start my own coaching business to learn that freaking. So my at the end was it's about the learning dam. It's about the learning. Like that's what I need to get through my head. And that's what, again, I want for folks that I coach, I want them to be able to go through the process that I take them through. And obviously I want them to move closer towards their goal. Of course you wanna do that, but in the end, I want them to under like, get the pattern down.

Sam Morgan (39m 12s):
But more importantly, get that mindset changed to being one of a, yeah.

Mark Graban (39m 18s):
A confident learner who practices. And it's fine. You know, it's funny. You, you might say you have a coaching practice, therefore you are practicing the coaching. You are practicing and experimenting with the things that it takes to build, build, and grow and sustain a business.

Sam Morgan (39m 34s):
Yeah. A hundred percent. And that's like, you know, early on here, just being able to work with folks and like, Hey, this is my process now. And like asking for feedback, like what's working, what's most valuable for you here and then using that so that I can really make this the most valuable time for folks. Right. Getting that feedback from them. And that's been really helpful, especially as I've been just starting and like getting that feedback. Like even in the first couple weeks I got like great feedback that was like, oh, like I got some ideas that was like, oh, I can like create some more content here. This can be more valuable for the people that I work with. Cause of XYZ.

Mark Graban (40m 10s):
Right. And that's where, if you're not also being a humble learner, you're gonna be dismissive of feedback or improvement opportunities. You say, I got this all figured none, none, none of us have it all.

Sam Morgan (40m 26s):
That's who learner, if you're, if you're arrogant. Right, right. Like, so like, I just think that those aren't, that's not, you're gonna be like closed down to other suggestions or even learning on your own and like learning from the things that you yourself. That's definitely

Mark Graban (40m 55s):
I'm change directions a little bit. And I wanna ask you about the t-shirt you're wearing today. And, and for context, like in, in the, the CI in five videos, Sam's always wearing a different shirt. One recently said, this is, did it say this is gonna be great. It was one of your phrases that you, you always say, let's do this.

Sam Morgan (41m 14s):
Yeah. Can do this. Yeah, you can do. Yeah.

Mark Graban (41m 19s):
Before we talk about this specific t-shirt have you ever worn the same? T-shirt twice in the series.

Sam Morgan (41m 25s):
Oh my God. That's so funny. You know, it's funny. Like I actually like in my, my closet, like I actually order them like first in, first out. Yeah. I have like an order, like, and I try to like do it. So like, I don't wear the same thing, but I do try to go back and look, what have I worn recently on an episode where like, so that I don't repeat myself too often, but I definitely repeated over time, but the, the selection is grim. But the thing about that is in like the shirts will become older. And so they're gonna have to like be recycled or given away. So yeah, it's a rotation you

Mark Graban (42m 6s):
You're inevitably going to be given or opportunity to get other t-shirts that are meaningful to you. So the collection will ebb and flow, but this t-shirt that you're wearing, you wear a lot of t-shirts that have a message or I'm sure what's a meaning meaningful message for you. So I'm gonna narrate just real quick for those who are listening to the podcast, those on YouTube are like, yeah, we see the shirt, but there are a number of fists. You would say that fist is, is recently pretty associated with, let's say the Black Lives Matter movement and, and logo, right?

Sam Morgan (42m 42s):
Yeah, yeah, absolutely.

Mark Graban (42m 43s):
And, but there are, there's a, a blue fist, a pink fist, a yellow fist, a black fist, and a kind of repeating, you know, sort of sequence. So long-winded way of teeing up. Like what, what, what, what, what's the message of, of that shirt and why is it important to you?

Sam Morgan (42m 60s):
Well, I'd say the message of the shirt is like unity resistance. I think that, that's it right there and nutshell. And the reason why it's so important to me, you know, as the husband of an African-American woman and we, and three children who are, you know, biracial like this idea of having all people have the same opportunity in our world. And we know that that is not the case. If we look at the data and the statistics just

Mark Graban (43m 42s):
From a there's, there's a gap from the ideal to the current

Sam Morgan (43m 44s):
Reality. Absolutely. Right. Yep. So I even, I think of like, the things that always stand out to me are like the wealth gap. It's just absolutely ridiculous. Like I think white households have like 10 times more actual net worth than people of color. And I know that there's like certain groups, I think it's African Americans and then even lower for Latin, like Latin community and different things. But I know it's right around that. And then in terms of like incarceration that's experience, and then the experience that, that has happened for my kids and, and also could be in the future and middle class, male, knowing all that.

Sam Morgan (44m 46s):
And then turning my back on is just, would be turning my back on myself. Right. It would not be an alignment with my purpose to be alike. And so it has meaning to me, like very deeply personally. Sure. And to be honest with you, like, like this really came to a head, I think it was, it was even before like the 2020, what the George Floyd murder and the start kinda the rise of the Black Lives Matter at that time. And my wife and I were having this conversation about the work she does and my wife is a consultant, restorative inclusion, consulting, and workshops and things of that.

Sam Morgan (45m 26s):
And we were talking about work that she was doing and how I was, I was like, Hey, you know, babe, like, I've really supported you in this, like all over these years. I've always been there for you. And, and she's like, yeah, but what about yourself? What about your journey? Like where have you gone like to like, do that work? Like what's the personal meaning to you? Not like me. I know you support me, but what about yourself? And that was really the start for me of like, oh, damn, yeah. I've gotta like look inside myself and is it like, do I really see what's going on as a problem? And does, is that having an emotional impact on me?

Sam Morgan (46m 8s):
Is it something that I'm action on to make, make an improvement in that space? Yeah.

Mark Graban (46m 18s):
Yeah. And, and, and I, you know, generally, I mean, gosh, just because a problem doesn't affect me personally, that doesn't make it not a problem. Right. So I could use like patient safety detour for a minute. The fact that I have not been harmed or killed by a medical error doesn't mean medical error doesn't exist. And these are systemic medical errors that happen across countries, different countries. So the fact that, you know, racism and other forms of discrimination don't affect me. I can't deny that they exist. I haven't lived through that.

Sam Morgan (46m 59s):

Mark Graban (47m 0s):
But I can, I, but I need to learn more from, from people who have, and, and not be in denial of it.

Sam Morgan (47m 8s):
And I think that, that circles around to the beginning of our conversation where we talk about like, what resonated for me around lean was obviously the continuous practitioners that, and calls himself to practitioner. And doesn't do the respect for people like this issues, help understand how you can like, basically align those two things.

Sam Morgan (47m 53s):
Like I'm a lean practitioner, but these things that people are saying, like the voice of the customer, the people who are experiencing it, that's actually not valid. That'd be like saying to your customers, right. Like, Hey, you know, like those defects that you saw in our product, like actually, that's, that's like, that's just your, like, that's your experience? Like, that's not, I'm not like all fine for me. Like there's no problem.

Mark Graban (48m 15s):
So stop exaggerating about these defects.

Sam Morgan (48m 17s):
Yeah, yeah, yeah. What's your problem. Right. You know, so I think for me, that's like where I get challenges is like seeing practitioners who like say this and then do this other thing. Like their attitude is, is different. Doesn't values, that's challenge.

Mark Graban (48m 41s):
There's the phrase, respect for people, respect for humanity, the Shing, I, the Shing model in a more active way, respect each individual or might the word might be every, but same idea, like actively respecting. And, and I appreciate what you said about figuring out what you can do. And that challenges me to think more about what I can do. And, and, and so one thing I wanna ask you about, and I preface it by saying, I will admit, if you look back across the 15, 16 year history of this podcast, there there's, there's a representation gap.

Mark Graban (49m 27s):
And I, and I've tried to be better about this. I've been more intentional about it with my favorite mistake podcast of making sure, you know, half my guests are women and that there's, you know, proportional representation, you know, guests who are people of color. And so I, I appreciate if not admire one thing you've talked about in our Lean Communicators group meetings of what you've done recently with the CI in five podcasts in terms of who you're inviting. Can you share with us a little bit about that?

Sam Morgan (49m 56s):
Yeah. So, you know, early on probably the first, maybe you knows that that about this and of these, these challenges is right again, right around this time of, you know, it was the kinda the, these conversations about, you know, diversity equity and inclusion, the black lives, like those kind conversations where it was surfacing. And we were like, we were having those conversations were and were on one day was may somewhere, all these like, but how are intentional about this in your, the things that you're doing in your practice and your, the way that you're showing and work social, why couldn't intentional about that video?

Sam Morgan (51m 8s):
So at that point in time, I was like, I wanna make this be about like, those like women of color, especially. Cause when you look on stage, like who do you see at these lean conferences? Like we know who we see, do we see a 50/50 split women and men, do we see a proportional, like a folks of color, LGBTQ neurodiversity, we see these different communities represented so we can get these different perspectives. And, you know, the answer we know is, no, we do not. So how can I myself have an impact on that? Like, you know, like in my world, in my sphere, like, obviously I'm not changing the whole thing, but like, what can I do in my world to, to do that?

Sam Morgan (51m 52s):
So I was very intentional for like, I don't even know how many episodes to just like focus on women of color and now, and just have exclusively those. I was like, I, those women a voice as best I can now over time as I've kind of moving into this, this space and engaging with different folks in different communities, if giving folks who have like, maybe like who are in underrepresented groups, like I, I had a gentleman on recently who was in like the autism community and then having other folks who are an underrepresented communities, like folks who do that, maybe live on a different continent that have like some other organizations that don't get light on.

Sam Morgan (52m 40s):
Like, that's what I wanna is shine light on those communities. And, and that aren't, aren't like typically like ones that are gonna get all the, the public attention, but are worth worthy of that attention. And so then that, that's what like, kinda started that movement in me is to like, be intentional at shine, light on people that don't normally have that light them. Yeah.

Mark Graban (53m 4s):
And, and, and, and that's great. And, you know, and it goes to show and, and whether we're hiring or choosing, finding guests for podcasts. So like getting outside of our network of people, when PE, if people complain, I can't find candidates who are women, or I can't find Black candidates, or I know someone on LinkedIn who was tired, she was tired of hearing people complain. I can't find Black speakers. So what did she do? She created a website. That's a directory of guess what? Black speakers. Right. So you can go and like, you, you, you know, people can make it easier.

Mark Graban (53m 45s):
We, we, you know, putting in the effort is, is worthwhile, right? So again, like I preface this I'm, I'm not trying to defensive I'm, I'm not perfect on these things. But so finding guests for my favorite mistake, my potential are basically the world, right. So I can, it's not harder. I mean, I can, I can make the effort of, of finding a representative group of guests. One thing that's, I think a bit of a challenge in lean community. And you know, we talk about this, you you've touched on this. There aren't a lot of Black faces people of color on stage, but even look around when you're in the attendees, there are not a lot of Black people in attendance.

Mark Graban (54m 30s):
Yeah. De our friend Deondra Wardell has reflected and shared many times. She might be the only Black woman in the, at the event together. And that, that makes, that makes me pause because I, I, that's not anything close to an experience I've, I've, I've always had. So as we, we try to figure out here's, I'm gonna try to frame it as a question. I'm rambling here. But when we look at, let's say systemic causes of patient harm, we could think of systemic causes of inequity. We could use the term systemic racism, people get upset and say, well, acknowledging that there is systemic racism does not mean that people running these lean events are racist.

Sam Morgan (55m 15s):

Mark Graban (55m 16s):
But there are systemic barriers to more representation. So this is a, I mean, it's a difficult question to answer, but I'm curious, what are your thoughts around how we, we could look to systemic causes without blaming individuals and, and, and try to find some, some systemic counters.

Sam Morgan (55m 40s):
Yeah, I think that's, and this is a, this is question that, that asked like, when I went to right. And I about the, of like perspectives and asking people like, Hey, let's not like when I finish, I was like, this, isn't just like, oh, a nice philosophical. Question's like, now pat have a beer and let's, this is actual, like, where do we go from here? Right. Like, what is a little step we can do from here? And so, you know, I encourage people with, and so I like a handful of people afterward were like, communicated with me there or, or like on LinkedIn or whatnot. And like, Hey, I wanna be a part of this. Like, what can we do? And I was like, well, what can we do so that we got together.

Sam Morgan (56m 23s):
And we started like, well, if we're doing practicing what we preach, like, we need to understand, like, what's our challenge. Where are we at now? Like, what do we want, what do we want it to be like? So right over the last, you know, few months we've been meeting on a regular basis, like just like reviewing those things. And then like, what are the ways that we can build a community? That's more like welcoming and accepting where folks in the underrepresented communities, whether it's people of whatever, you know, disabilities otherwise, like, can we create a space where those folks feel welcome?

Sam Morgan (57m 8s):
So they will show up on a regular basis and like specifically like in our community, in the community. But like, you can, you can take that more broadly. So we've been working on that challenge to try to understand like current sending out, like, we wanna these little community meetings, like sending out a survey, like what's our, to get an understanding. Like, what's our demographic like here. So we can go from here. We want it to be like this here's where it's. And then like, we're going be taking like little steps to like, help us, hopefully see a change in our community. Groups will see more women of color, people of color, people of these different underrepresented groups show up. So it's just like practicing what we preach.

Sam Morgan (57m 50s):
Right. Like on the challenge itself, and then take little steps to do it. Cause we're not gonna like turn it overnight, but we will make a change if we're intentional with it. Right.

Mark Graban (58m 2s):
Yeah. I mean, it's a problem, a long time in the making due to overt discrimination, theft of wealth that has happened over time to, to, to people of color. And, you know, I mean, you know, Sam, you know, one, one thing you make me think of is, you know, we can be welcoming. We can go and invite people, but you know, how do we expand the pool? I mean, there's a question I would pose. I would love to have data around this, looking at who companies choose to be in continuous improvement roles or, you know, so if people of color or people in other groups are underrepresented in continuous improvement roles, if they're underrepresented in leadership roles, guess what?

Mark Graban (58m 47s):
They're probably gonna be underrepresented at a lean conference that draws on CI people and leaders. Right?

Sam Morgan (58m 55s):
Yeah. It it's really, it's like a scenario. And to your point, can we make that? Where can we, to your point, like, it's not like people aren't out there looking for opportunities or like they don't wanna be in these roles. Right. So where are they like, and why are we not going to where they're at? Why aren't we being intentional with, with doing it? And like, I mean, that, that obviously takes more looking at from specific organizations like, and you know why that's happening, but yeah, question.

Mark Graban (59m 36s):
So maybe that's challenge to the listener. And I will say to the listener, if you are still listening, thank you for not hitting pause or hitting fast forward and stomping away from this podcast episode in a huff saying like, that's not related to lean. Why are we talking about, so thank you to, to those of you who are still listening. I hope it's not many people who would've said, Nope, skip, move on, appreciate you leaning into listening. And we don't have all the answers, but there's a challenge maybe for all of us to try to figure out, figure out what we can do.

Sam Morgan (1h 0m 16s):
Amen. Yeah.

Mark Graban (1h 0m 18s):
So Sam, you know, to, before we wrap up and you know, again, we've, we've been talking with, with Sam Morgan and he is the host of CI in five, you can find that on YouTube. You can also find it at leancommunicators.com. Sam is again, part of that kind of networking and learning and practicing group of podcasters and YouTube video creators that we call Lean Communicators. So you can find Sam's videos and this podcast and, and others on leancommunicators.com Sam's website is illuminatecoach.com and maybe a final topic here, you know, as you're coaching, as you're figuring out ways to help people, what, what is you have a program called illuminate you tell, tell us about that.

Sam Morgan (1h 1m 3s):
Yeah. So this is one that I'm super, super stoked about. And so the program is all about changing your mindset. Like if you're really struggling, like you're an or leader and, you know, product, you just kinda like back by fear. So what this is gonna do is really help teach you a new way to think through this practice of the daily coaching with the, the improvement. But we start with in that first week, we start with getting a clear picture of your purpose, because if you, if you can work towards the vision, but if it's not aligned with who you are like in your, for being then as you go there, it's, it's moving.

Sam Morgan (1h 1m 53s):
And so take that actually literally the thought going and that way of operating. And then, so if I was working with you, then we'd go and say like, Hey, let's, let's get clear on our challenge. Right. Then we'd go, then we'd just start going for the next two months. We work every day together, you know, the five days a week and work towards that challenge and get cleared the challenge.

Sam Morgan (1h 2m 39s):
We, we do the same understand important way of one. That's when you're, you're done understand that you have, you feel that confidence and like, yeah, this, I got this, you got this. Yeah.

Mark Graban (1h 3m 8s):
And mentioned you the cave, that fear going, right? Yeah.

Sam Morgan (1h 3m 18s):
Caves the,

Mark Graban (1h 3m 20s):
So to have the confidence to enter that cave require some illumination. You, and as I've heard you say in your video, your purpose of being a light will help people navigate that dark cave. Or if we don't enter that dark cave, we can't navigate it. So I think I, I, I, I think I see some of the connections between the, the words and, and the phrasing that you're using. That's very powerful.

Sam Morgan (1h 4m 0s):
Yeah. The ever since I went through a coaching cohort many, two years ago with Karyn Ross for this whole Katie Anderson, I got this like drawing out your, like a lot of the origin of this program comes from some of those things that I learned in this idea, being a light, a lot of that reflection, that process, and then working with Karyn. But like during that time where I was uncovering my purpose, being a light, like a lot of those phrases of like warmth and security and hope and guidance. Like I just think of like a lighthouse or a fire or flashlight or a match or all these different things that light comes in different forms and what it means like there, as I show up as a coach, that's how I want the people that I work with to feel sometimes it's gonna be that the fire, that passion, sometimes it's gonna be like that lighthouse.

Sam Morgan (1h 4m 51s):
Like sometimes it's gonna be like a flashlight light. There's gonna be guidance right. Along the way. But all in all, like, I definitely want that light so that they, like you said, I, you said it beautifully so that they can feel like they can walk into that cave. And, and, and not necessarily not feel fear, but feel confident enough that I can make it through that next step. Right. And it's gonna be OK.

Mark Graban (1h 5m 16s):
Facing the fear as opposed to hoping the fear magically goes away. That's very helpful idea there. So again, we've been joined today by Sam Morgan. Sam loves lean. So look on YouTube. Sam loves lean. His email again is SamLovesLean@gmail.com and check out his website, illuminatecoach.com. So Sam being a guest here on

Sam Morgan (1h 5m 56s):
Email, so that illuminate the best touch I'm there every day. You certainly out the videos. Inspirational, just, just I, and I love the community. There's, it's a wonderful place. I so cool people there. So yeah, it's great to you. One of the you great friends and I've this journey, the last opportunity you today and then every single person, I think it is an honor.

Sam Morgan (1h 6m 40s):
Anytime take anybody takes like a moment to comment or watch a post or listen to this. There is literally an infinite number of things minus this one thing you're doing right now that you could be doing, but somehow you chose to listen to these two goofy white guys right here to watch this guy or read his post. So I feel like honored and blessed when people do that.

Mark Graban (1h 7m 3s):
Well, thank you. And I've, I've really appreciated and enjoyed getting to know you the last couple years through the lean communicators group and otherwise. So again, thank you. Thank you so much for being a guest chair.

Sam Morgan (1h 7m 15s):
Thanks Mark. Appreciate it.

Mark Graban (1h 7m 16s):
Well, thanks again to Sam for being with us today for links to his website and more look in the show notes in your podcast app, where you can go to leanblog.org/457.

Announcer (1h 7m 29s):
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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


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