Is the Glass Half Full, Half Empty or Full of Foam?

I was in Amsterdam last week for New Year’s Eve and I noticed something about the way the Dutch drink their beer. They like it in small 200 cl glasses and they like as much as two inches of head or foam on the beer. There even is a special tool, called a foam scrapper, used to even off the foam at the top of the glass.

Now, I’m used to English and Canadian pubs where beer is filled to the brim. I also know that two inches of foam means a lot less beer so I was always feeling cheated. But one day as I let the foam subside, I noticed a little line etched into the glass about two inches down from the rim.

It’s called a plimsoll line and it marked the spot where the glass would hold 200 cl of beer. The level of beer in my glass was just slightly above it. So I was getting a full measure of what I had paid for, even though my perception was that a large portion of the glass was full of foam. Had I been given a smaller glass filled to the brim my perception might have been that I was getting more than I’d paid for even if the glass were smaller than 200 cl.

This led me to thinking about the way we deal with clients and customers. Do we give them a lot of foam and air from which they perceive no value? Or do we keep the vessel of our work tight enough that it seems to overflow with what we’ve promised?

On the other hand, we need to know if the client is Dutch – maybe they like a bit of foam.


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