12 May 2010

Don't Do This


As a general rule, I'm not a big fan of rules. And this set of "Restroom Guidelines" posted on the stall door of the men's room at my office is pretty much a perfect example of how not do do it.

First of all, these aren't guidelines. They're rules. And don't give me this about my assistance being requested and appreciated. This sign is asking for compliance. The attempt to put some humanity into this rule set falls quite flat.

Can anyone tell me why the men's room needs a "Guideline" to not dispose of feminine products? And what about pinecones? The Guidelines doesn't say I can't discard pinecones, which is just about as likely as discarding my "clothing undergarments."

I just have to wonder about the mindset of the person who conceived, wrote and posted these rules. What did they think they accomplished? Maybe one of these things happened once, and now there's a big rule set outlawing things that never happened and never would have, rules or no rules. It's just one more example of universal solutions to isolated problems.

I only mention this because organizations do the exact same thing in all sorts of other contexts. My request? Please don't...

5 comments:

Phil said...

Dan, ask some of the older tenants of 1500 Wilson and you'll understand why the signs were posted...let's just say we had some MAJOR scatalogical emergencies back in the day; as for your comments, spot on...when first put up, the signs received frequent amusing amendments of what should and shouldn't go down the hole--anything to make work enjoyable! :)

The Dan Ward said...

Really? Wow, that's crazy... Glad I wasn't there to see it first-hand!

Gabe said...

The point is well made. Rules seem to the currency in formal hierarchies. Witness the DoD's struggle to outline rules for computer use. It recently took me a couple of days to complete my IA training about how to conduct business using a government computer system. It used to take hours. Only after receiving access did I realize that the ban on Facebook, Twitter, etc. was lifted but the ban on platforms like Blogger was still firmly in place. Doesn't China ban is citizenry from accessing websites that are considered political harmful to the state?

RhetTbull said...

Unfortunately, almost every rule of this sort is based on past experience. My uncle is a landlord and has stipulations almost identical to these in his lease agreements. Why? Because at some point in time, one his tenants have tried every one of these. It would be really great if the world was full of smart people and we could suffice with a simple guideline that said "don't do stupid things.". Kinda like Google's corporate rule of "don't be evil." But unfortunately that's not the world we live in. So, people who write rules have a balancing act between intelligent guidelines and stupid rules. I keep a collection of sign photos I've seen that had stupid rules just to remind myself of the reason behind those rules. For example, I saw a sign attached to the business end of a Space Shuttle Main Engine that said "Warning, do not insert head into nozzle." I'm sure there's a good story behind that sign... As for bathroom signs, I think this one from Thule Greenland is by far the best! http://dl.dropbox.com/u/104022/Thule%20Toilet%20Sign.jpg

ckstevenson said...

The building owner/operator may be required to post the same rules in the Men's room as the Women's, and by not doing so could open themself up to some sort of harassment or discrimination suit.


I find the cardboard clause to be the most humorous.