Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Seeing Beyond The Glass - The Lean Thinker's View


Nine years ago I posted the question Is the glass half full or half empty? Since that time I've seen many bloggers post about this very question. I wanted to revisit this again.

Is the glass half full of half empty? The optimists will likely say it is half full and the pessimists it is half empty. Maybe some will say it depends on whether you are pouring or drinking. The Lean Thinker says why is the glass is twice as large as it needs to be. 

The purpose of the question is to demonstrate that the situation may be seen in different ways depending on one's point of view and that there may be opportunity in the situation. A 'glass half full person' is an optimist, someone who always thinks that good things will happen. Meanwhile, as you might imagine, a 'glass half empty person' is a pessimist, someone who always thinks that bad things will happen.

The key word to describe the difference between them is ‘perspective’. Perspective is like a glass on the eyes. The things in reality remain the same but due to the glass being fitted on the eyes, one tends to see things differently.


Lean is about learning to “see” the wastes in front of us. It is a mindset of challenging status quo. A case of questioning the question you might say. It would be easy when presented with this example to say the glass is half full or half empty but if you observed the situation you might question how much water is needed. What does the customer want? If you understand the value from the customer’s point of view then you be in a position to eliminate everything else (the waste of the excess cup). This line of thinking is why the Lean Thinker questions why the glass is so large.

How do you answer the question "Is the glass half full of half empty"?

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