At the Brick Factory headquarters we have a shared dishwasher.  Being adults, we don’t really need a formal system for managing our dirty dishes.  People put their dirty dishes in the dishwasher and someone runs it when needed.

We have one problem.  After the dishwasher is run we count on the next person that goes into the kitchen to put the clean dishes into the cabinet.  Most of our dishes are glasses that have been used to drink water, so it is surprisingly difficult to tell whether someone has run the dishwasher or not.  So there have been occasions where clean dishes have been washed twice or dirty dishes have been put back on the shelf inadvertently.

To solve the problem we thought about establishing procedures around emptying the dishwasher.

Maybe create a schedule where we would rotate who is responsible for managing the dishes each week?  Way too much trouble.  The cure is worse than the disease.

Maybe have one person be in charge of running and emptying the dishwasher all the time?  Not how we want to run the company.  We’re adults and no employee should have to clean up after other folks as part of their job.

So this minor annoyance persisted.

Last week our VP of IT Ron Isla came up with a simple, elegant solution.  He went on Amazon and paid $3.65 for a magnet that marks whether dishes are clean or dirty (pictured below).  Problem solved.


In our work building websites, we run into problems like our dishwasher issue every day.

As with our dishwasher problem, our initial instinct is often to come up with complicated solutions that can often cause more problems than they solve.  We will try to program the problem away or come up with elaborate procedures for mitigating a problem that will only pop up once in a blue moon.

In nearly every situation, I’ve found simple, obvious solutions work best.  Ron’s elegant solution to our dishwasher problem is a good reminder of that.

About the Author
Todd Zeigler
Todd Zeigler serves as the Brick Factory’s chief strategist and oversees the operations of the firm. In his sixteen year career in digital, he has planned and implemented campaigns for clients including the Pickens Plan, International Youth Foundation, Panthera, Edison Electric Institute, and the American Chemistry Council. Todd develops ambitious online advocacy programs, manages crises, implements online marketing strategies, and develops custom applications and software. He is bad at golf though.