The Dishwasher Effect

A story told in Innovation seminar this week has been on my mind.  Prof claimed that the first dishwasher was invented before 1900 by a housewife who was sick of washing dishes by hand; it slowly spread to her friends but didn’t become widely commercialized until the 1950s.

Turns out there’s some truth to it…  but only some.  Josephine Cochrane was a wealthy socialite tired of her servants chipping china, not dishpan hands.  She started hawking the device and the World’s Fair, not a tea party.  Oh, and apparently the company eventually became KitchenAid.

But the point remains that she saw a need, tinkered in the backyard, and came up with a revolutionary solution…  which took half a century of further innovation, price reductions, and shifting macroeconomic and social conditions for the mass market to be ready for.

It’s encouraging to me that our single-serving society is tinkering again.  And in our spiffy new hyper-digital long-tail economy I want to believe the common sensibility that the time from backyard to showroom floor is compressing.

And yet, gasification is a centuries-old technology with huge potential that’s still hovering on the fringes, battling stigmas and established systems as much as capital constraints.

I want to believe that it is, at least in part, a brand problem.  I’m just not sure how to solve it yet.

© Ryan Cunningham 2008

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thoughts at the collision of business, brand and creativity

I'm Ryan Cunningham. I help companies and culture play nice with each other. At CREATURE we call this Brand Strategy, a term that carries a nice halo of reliability and structure. Here, I'm just another guy who thinks about the world and writes it down from time to time.

The result is a pile of knowledge to be used in, and for, the future. Feel free to sift through the heap for useful connections.

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