I had to chuckle when I came across this sign taped to the wall of an unnamed university. Naturally, I whipped out my ever-present, oh-so-fuzzy little camera phone and took a picture or two.
This sign is clear and unambiguous. Where does the trash can belong? It belongs here. Right below the large, red arrow. There's even a helpful picture of a trash can, lest there be any confusion. So there's nothing wrong with the design of this sign, right? Right.
Well, let's zoom out a bit and see how things worked out:
Hmmmm.... I see the sign. I see the top of the trashcan. And yet, there seems to be no correlation between the sign's request and the can's position. Why is that?
Maybe it's unintended disobedience, rooted in the fact that the sign is tucked away behind the door and therefore goes unseen. Maybe it's deliberate, because that's an inconvenient place to put the trashcan.
Regardless of the reasion, this grievous transgression of refuse receptacle locationage tells me what we've got here is an ineffective sign. And that got me thinking.
Someone clearly cared enough to design, print and post the sign. But they didn't care enough to follow through, either by talking with the janitor or stopping by to make sure the trashcan is where it belongs (this is where the can was for the whole 4 weeks I was in class).
This isn't a big deal, but it's worth mentioning because it's a small example of how bigger things go wrong. See, even clear, unambiguous direction can fail to deliver results if not paired with follow-through, a solid understanding of the environment & situation and personal involvement. Someone wants the can behind the door, and someone else wants it in the middle of the hall. Who wins? Not the person who makes a sign. The winner is the one who actually moves the can.