A Question for the Customer: Half Empty or Half Full?

Khaleeji FZ LLC (UAE) Chapter +1

Zaheer is an experienced Project Management Professional focused on ecommerce and web applications.

"Is the glass half empty or half full?" If I ask that famous question, many of us—without giving a second thought—are predisposed to a specific answer. Those of us you answer "half full” have been taught to look at what we have achieved, as it shows a positive attitude—a great trait to possess, especially in our industry.

However, as project managers, being positive is not enough—a PM must also be more analytical. So what’s wrong with this “half-full glass” approach? Are we missing something important? Yes, we are—we’ve overlooked asking the inquirer (our customer) what its final objective is with the glass. Do they want to fill it up or empty it?

While the customer has not shared its final objective, we may assume on our own that it is interested in filling up the glass. We are deciding the objectives without considering the desired outcome of the customer. What if the desired outcome is actually to empty the glass? We would only be positive if we were predisposed to looking at the glass as half empty—a completely different perspective.

This is a classic example of setting project, phase or requirement objectives without considering needs and wants of the customer with due diligence. As soon as many of us look at the glass, somewhere in our mind we decide that we have to empty it. The …

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"The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not Eureka! (I found it!) but rather, 'hmm.... that's funny...'"

- Isaac Asimov

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