Our human communication is broken. It happens every day in organizations where we over-complicate basic information we need to share. We are so busy presenting our perfect mission and vision statements that we have lost sight of the shared purpose that allows people to understand how they can make a contribution at work.
The idea that people routinely emptied chamberpots out windows into the street is one of the images of the past that has been taught to generations of school children. It's usually said to have been done in the Middle Ages and it's an image that has stuck with many people, particularly because we find it so disgusting. Unfortunately, like many popular ideas about the Middle Ages, it's largely nonsense.