Half of the information is better than none at all

My wife and I recently had a conversation which I need to work into my upcoming talk on metrics.  I’m traveling and she is planning to pick me up from the airport. Its a long flight.  She is wondering about flight updates and what time she should show at the airport.

I tell her that I’ll text her if the plane takes off on time, or is delayed.  She initially says that she needs to know if it will arrive on time, not if it departs on time.  Then, immediately realizes that if the plane departs late, it surely will arrive late. So, having that bit of information regarding on time departure does have some value.

Sometimes we let perfect get in the way of progress. A metric can be gamed, or its not comprehensive, or it doesn’t tell the whole story. However, if you understand the underlying process, having half the information may provide some useful information indeed.