Audio Parody: “Lean Spice” Commercial


Hello, readers. How are you? Fantastic.

The recent series of Old Spice commercials starring Isaiah Mustafa have been a pop culture hit, especially on YouTube and Twitter. 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, seriously.

Well, this might not be how, but I've recorded a parody of the Old Spice ads — this will make a lot of sense if you haven't seen this commercial or this one. OK, so my parody still might not make sense, but take a listen, below…

I don't have the skills to do a fake video (calling for a talented reader to help, click here), and I could barely photoshop these images together into a “Lean Spice” picture to look at while the audio plays:

The “Lean Spice” guy. Mark Graban is not this lean, not even close.

The transcript for those who can't hear my artificially-deepened voice:

Hello ladies. How are you? Fantastic. Look at your hospital. Now back to me. Now back at your hospital. Now back to me. Sadly, your hospital isn't me.

But if your hospital stopped having wasteful, siloed processes everywhere and switched to Lean Spice body wash, your hospital could smell like he's me.

Look down. Back up. Where are you? You're in a hospital where emergency room waiting times are half what they used to be while seeing 20% more patients.

Look at your hand, now mine. What's in it? It's the construction blueprints that we tore up because we doubled OR throughput by using Lean, saving my hospital millions, which allowed me to buy you these diamonds. I could have built the rooms with my own hands but I didn't have to thanks to lean.

Should you use Lean Spice? I don't know, like do you quality improvement and patient safety? Who has reduced patient falls and length of stay while making staff members so happy you'd think they were looking at me all day? Not your hospital, mine. Swan dive. Into the best 5 days of your career, a rapid improvement event led by me.

Anything's possible when your hospital smells like Lean Spice, not like waste. I'm on a horse.

What do you think? Please scroll down (or click) to post a comment. Or please share the post with your thoughts on LinkedIn – and follow me or connect with me there.

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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.


  1. Having never seen the Old Spice material this was still amusing and interesting.

    The diamonds thing baffled me. Stands out as selfish in the midst of the caring missions of hospitals… But I’m sure you see that everyday.

  2. Dean – the “I bought you these diamonds” is a pretty direct line from one of the Old Spice commercials. You’re right, that wouldn’t be something a hospital would do…

  3. Mark – Don’t EVER let anyone tell you that you are not creative! I have tears running down my face from listening to this and trying to stifle my laughing so my cubemates don’t think I’ve totally gone off the deep end. The combination of the content and the artificially enhanced voice are lethal! Thanks for the “injection” of humor we Lean practitioners desperately need from time to time.

  4. Thanks, Mary. You’ll have to share the craziness with your colleagues. Lean people are always a bit crazy, it seems sometimes, to try to help make the changes that we do! Having a sense of humor certainly helps.


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