Last year, I took an amazing trip to South Africa and literally drove the perimeter of the country. Like many developing countries, South Africa’s transportation infrastructure resembles the United States before Eisenhower’s highway investments. These countries typically have two-lane national roads that don’t compare with our interstates.
Early in our first day’s drive, we encountered this sign:
And the sign was 100% accurate – we hit about five potholes over the next 5 kilometers. While we feared a broken axel or busted tire on at least a couple of the potholes, I was very curious about the warning signs.
Someone working for a government entity was aware of the potholes, commissioned thousands of signs for various areas of the country, and paid workers to install them in the worst areas. I’m sure they did this to contain costs, but it still seemed odd that they wouldn’t just fix the potholes.
I soon realized, however, that our nonprofit organizations often do the equivalent of installing a “pothole” sign. We do this in many ways:
- A sign at a reception desk sign that informs consumers they may have to wait a long time before getting services.
- A donor list apologizing in advance for any misspelled names.
- An outdated website with a banner saying “under construction”
What are your organization’s pothole signs? What can you do to fill the potholes and remove the sign?