Parody Audio: Marketing Lean Healthcare Like the iPad


If you've been anywhere near a TV lately, you've probably heard and seen this hypnotizing “What is iPad?” commercial (YouTube link). The announcer breathlessly and shamelessly tells you how “beautiful” and “magical” the iPad is… “it's crazy powerful,” he says, channeling Steve Jobs (who probably wrote the ad himself).

After about the 200th time of being bombarded with this ad (and I don't watch THAT much TV), I found myself reciting their mantra, as I tweeted:

I feel like the iPad TV ad is brainwashing me. Yes, iPad is beautiful Yes, it's crazy powerful. Must…. buy…. iPad…

That got me thinking… maybe we need a slick marketing campaign like this for Lean Healthcare… read on and listen up.

I quickly whipped together this little parody audio:

I do this all with tongue firmly in cheek. I wouldn't want to try to brainwash the healthcare world into believing in Lean. Instead, we need to appeal to their heads and their hearts.

We have to share examples of how Lean principles and management methods lead to better quality, safety, cost, access, and staff morale. We have to share how Lean works when we aren't top-down command-and-control and we engage all staff in figuring out how to provide ideal patient care. We have to convince healthcare leaders that Lean isn't just a set of tools and it's not a bunch of cost cutting. Lean is “equally important pillars” (Toyota's Taiichi Ohno) of continuous improvement AND respect for people. It's impossible to do that in a 30-second commercial.

You can read about this and more in the upcoming book (due out this week): e, by the way, as I think ThedaCare is really trying to do this the right way.

I cringe when I hear of “fake Lean” or what I call “L.A.M.E.” in healthcare (Lean As Misguidedly Executed). Real Lean isn't mean. Lean is an obsessively customer-focused philosophy — if we hear nurses complaining that Lean isn't patient-focused, that's a problem with management there or with the people teaching what they call “lean”. We have to separate “bad lean” from the real Lean that comes from true Toyota principles, not the latest thing some consultant is selling. Neither Toyota nor the Lean Enterprise Institute have any control over what people or organizations might do under the name “lean.”

I cringed as I recorded the line straight from the commercial:

  • Apple ad: “You already know how to use it”
  • Lean Healthcare ad: “You already know how to implement it”

Actually, the cases of “L.A.M.E.” or fake lean are cases where people don't understand Lean or they don't know how to adopt it in a way that truly engages everyone for the right reasons (quality and patient care first, cost second).

Anyway, hope you enjoyed my commercial. Maybe you're brainwashed into saying “Lean is crazy powerful” (if you listen to it 200 times!!).



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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.

  1. Lewis Lefteroff says

    Great parody. Lean is crazy powerful… must… have… Lean…

  2. Lee Bryan says

    Nice going Mark. Loving the creativity!

  3. Laura says

    interesting perspective and enjoyable humor. :) I agree that LEAN needs to be done right or it is DEFINITELY lame….

  4. Kevin Tame says

    This is Awesome!

    I really want to hear you bust a freestyle rap about LEAN next time.
    Maybe even a Justin Beiber Parody.
    Ha Ha Ha. That would be great!

  5. […] Some of us have talked about the need to better market Lean, something I first experimented with in my iPad commercial parody. My friend Jay Parkinson, MD asked me, back in June, “How do you make Lean sexy?” Yeah, […]

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