True confession time.
I once worked for a large, global conglomerate that was in a death spiral and struggling to turn things around. The company was harvesting its mature and declining business in order to pump cash into its growth bets.
A new CFO came on board and decided that training was a luxury that could no longer be afforded. Instead of a way to improve skills and make the business stronger, it was seen as an expense – even worse, a strategically irrelevant expense, like rearranging deck chairs on the titanic.
Cindy McCauley, one of the original CCL researchers behind the 70-2-10 model, wrote recently in an article called "My Love-Hate relationship with 70-20-10"
"I hate it because people misuse it. I’ve heard colleagues complain that it is justification to cut formal programs. The reasoning: if they account for only 10% of development, why do we need it? (Back to the critical details—some things are best learned in formal programs.) Another complaint: Attempts to force everything into the 70-20-10 mold, as if one concept should rule decision making about program designs, learning and development budgets, and individual development plans."
I’m not proud to tell that story, as I was a part of peddling that garbage until I had had enough and joined a company that was really committed to employee training and development. The reason I’m baring my soul is that I still see HR and training professionals trying to sell themselves and their employees the same propaganda. Sometimes they are doing as they are told, but sometimes they really seem to believe it.
Sure, without training, people can still “wing it”, try to learn on their own, and sink or swim. Eventually, though trial and error, they may pick it up. But when you are in a leadership position, your mistakes can hurt others, and the higher the level, the more costly those little lessons learned become. Wouldn’t it be worth the cost of 1-2 days of training to prevent a million dollar mistake?