Half Empty or Full? – A Definitive Answer!

This old chestnut came up again during the festive break. The conundrum is often used as a way of expressing optimism, or pessimism, but it has always slightly annoyed me as it suggests that a future-outcome-oriented assessment can be made based on a single piece of information and at a single point in time.

The answer to the question really depends on the past, and expected future, flow of the contents of the glass: When at the mid-point of being filled, we would better describe it as half full; when we are in the middle of consuming the contents, we can similarly predict the opposite outcome.

There’s a third option as well: If the contents are static, then the glass is neither half empty nor half full; it’s just bigger than it needs to be. (In fact it’s 100% over-capacity – shockingly inefficient!)

So the point (and the business relevance) of all this is: Careful with snap judgements based on incomplete or out of date information as you could have completely the wrong picture. Better to wait a moment and be sure you are using all the relevant data and information available to you.

And so my (ever so slightly killjoy) answer to the riddle is therefore: “I don’t know… yet."

Do have an excellent new year, and let me know if you find any revelations of your own when you reach that mid-point.

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