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VIDEO: Christian Hunt's tour of compliance design at the Amsterdam Airport

One of the best places to learn about compliance design is an airport.

No matter how global or diverse your company is, an international airport has it tougher. Dozens of countries, dozens of languages, all converging in one place.

So, like, how do they get people to go to the right place on time?

Today we've got a dispatch from our sometimes European correspondent, Christian Hunt, showing us how the Dutch do it with this amazeballs tour of the Schipol airport:




Indeed, Street Sharks. Very Jawesome.


Bonus commentary!!

Some additional thoughts about airport compliance design from me, a person who has taken way too many pictures of industrial signage over the years.

First, when you think about airport signage, think about how much work the icons and pictograms are doing for you.

That is, the icons are so generally consistent worldwide that you can figure out how to navigate an airport even if you can't otherwise read the sign.

This is the right way to use visuals: not as decoration, but to reinforce and replace the text.

You can read more on that, and our approach to iconography, at this link—or you can read a world-example of this based on poor Vanilla Ice at this link.

Second, when you think about that totally rad clock Christian features in the video, remember that it's not the only clock in the airport.

Because if it were, it'd be a failure.

Watch the video again: for about 10 seconds each minute, the clock has no minute hand at all. Which means that the clock is good at getting your attention, but just so-so at actually functioning as a clock.

And again, that's OK because it's not the only clock in the airport.

It works in tandem with all the other clocks and your phone and everything else. It can sacrifice some of the detail and usefulness of a clock to be more eye-catching, and then it relies on the existence of other clocks to actually help you know what time it is—in case you can't wait for the guy to draw the next minute.

This systematic approach is how you should think about awareness and training materials too. It's really common for compliance officers (especially lawyers) to think that every piece of information they communicate has to address every possible point. 

It doesn't.

Some of your stuff will inherently be higher-level and simplistic for the purpose of getting attention and reminding people of things (awareness); other stuff will be less visually compelling but be more detailed and actually tell people what to do (training)—and this approach makes both sides of the equation more effective.

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think about those "See Something, Say Something" posters that are so ubiquitous in American airports—the airport equivalent of a speak-up hotline poster.

If you've seen those and ever thought "well, sure, but I also feel like that's YOUR job, government," you're right. Because if the only thing the government did to manage safety at the airport was put up some posters and ask you to speak up, you'd rightly be worried.

Your hotline is the same way.

That is, hotlines and whistleblowers are failsafes, not a strategy. It's fine to have hotline posters and promote a speak-up culture, but that should never be the primary way you find out about issues. 

Just like the government can't outsource safety and counter-terrorism to everyday travelers who just want to get to their destination, you can't outsource compliance to everyday employees. They can and should do their part when they happen to see (and recognize) something, but that's always going to be rare—the first line of defense is you.