If you are a Twitter user and follow the #Lean hashtag on Twitter, you might have seen a lot of noise from a company called Designing Kaizen (@DesigningKaizen), claiming to have a web-based app for “value stream mapping” (see their app’s separate website here).
After getting a ton of evasive answers and non-answers about who the co-founders even are (through a series of Twitter messages and emails), the company refused to let me have a “free trial” of the software (yes, the purposefully denied my request for the trial that they offer on their website) because they feared my motives were “nefarious” (WTF?). So I took a hit for the team and paid $25 for the “software.”
I will continue this post over time with more details and backstory, but the app is worthless, in my opinion. You cannot even draw a rudimentary VSM with the current version. I agree with @KarenMartinOpex when she tweeted “even beta versions need to have minimum functionality! It’s a worthless tool at this point.”
More to come… be warned and do NOT spend your money there. The app is not at all what they describe in their marketing, nor is it what they show in the screenshots… and their attitude, via Twitter and email does not suggest that they are an earnest startup that is trying to improve an early version that they know is lacking. I am going to be protesting the charge (as I expected I was going to have to do) with PayPal and American Express.
Update #1: I am all for the idea that a “Lean Startup” might launch with “minimum viable product” functionality, but this “beta” does not at all live up to the promise of their hype. One could consider that fraud. I have tried communicating my concerns privately, via Twitter and email and have not been satisfied with their responses (and churlish attitudes) so I feel obligated to warn the Lean community.
Update #2: These guys claim via Tweets:
- More great feedback on our Value Stream Mapping app from our users “The more I use it, more I see why the simplicity works” #LEAN #AGILE
- Getting VERY good feedback on our Value Stream Mapping app from early users. Everyone seems to love the simplicity.http://bit.ly/mDgxTI+
- If you drag and drop a process box onto the drawing, you cannot rename it. You can spin it in circles, but you cannot name it anything other than “press.” They claim the ability to rename a process box is coming later this week.
- You cannot delete an element other than clicking “undo.”
- You cannot save a drawing.
- You cannot share/email/print/tweet/fax a drawing (they have claimed this is a robust tool for sharing VSMs)
- There are no data boxes
- There is no semblance of a time line.
- There is no “customer” or “supplier” box that you can even draw.
Address: 626 Enterprise Way New York, NY 10229
Update #4: Their original product concept was online video Lean training that “doesn’t suck.” They claim the following companies as customers:
Then, they changed direction and unveiled this “value stream mapping” app that doesn’t even allow you to draw a VSM. It sucks. DesigningKaizen said, via Twitter, that all other VSM software sucks too. My god, the arrogance.
Update #5: They have repeated tweeted:
- Robust VSM tool creating e-versions of value stream maps (for creation, presentation, distribution & archiving) http://bit.ly/iy03Af
Update #6: Their “support” email told me:
We do not have a refund policy at this time. We will be happy to forward your email to the
company founders. Thanks again for the feedback.
Update #7: Their confirmation email says:
This membership does not auto-renew at the current price until the end of the Beta Program. You may cancel at any time. For cancellation info, please contact the Designing Kaizen support department at [email protected].
Problem #1 – the signup process did nothing to accept a recurring charge (nor was there any license agreement).
Bigger problem – their app does not require any sort of user login or password even.
Update #8: They claim (via Twitter, not responding to my email) that they have revoked my access to the app so they can process a refund for me.
Update #9: Part of the feedback I had given to them originally was that their planned pricing model of $50 per month was completely out of line with the market.
About LeanBlog.org: Mark Graban is a consultant, author, and speaker in the “lean healthcare” methodology. Mark is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. Mark is also the VP of Customer Success for the technology company KaiNexus. He lives in San Antonio, Texas.