Why are paint tins round? (and what has that got to do with e-learning?)

I have recently decorated a bedroom at my house, and as part of the process we visited the local DIY store to choose and buy paint. something that I noticed whilst doing this was most of the tins of paint were in traditional round tins but about 20% are available in rectangular containers. This made me think, and I realised that a rectangular container is far more sensible than a round one – they stack more efficiently on a shelf so easier for the shop to store and display; they will occupy less room on a lorry so better for the environment; for the user like me if I am using a roller I can dip this straight into the can if I want so all in all a far more sensible vessel than a round tin. so why is it 80% of the paint on offer still comes in round tins? well it is probably the old situation of human beings not liking change ‘it has always been in a round tin so should stay in a round tin’.


Originally uploaded by Abhisek Sarda

So what is the point of this tale. Well when we look at e-learning, there are a small percentage of people that are prepared to challenge the norms and this is essential for progress to be made especially whilst the technology is changing so rapidly, but there are still a lot of people who are not keen on change and whilst these are in the majority then their behaviour will remain the norm (like the 80% of round paint tins) and although not deliberate they are in effect stifling progress. so what is the solution? as we enter more difficult financial times most senior managers will tighten their financial belts and restrict anything that isn’t proven but a few (possibly through financial necessity) may create a culture in their organisations where risk is not just allowed but rewarded, and in these places the norm may be to ‘challenge the norm’ and then real progress can be made.

So although recession is a bad thing for everyone I do genuinely believe that some educational good may come out of it.