Well, I wonder how many chief execs and finance directors actually think the same way about their training and development budgets.
I say this because for many businesses, it seems that resources allocated to training are always first to come under scrutiny when things start looking 'a bit tight' and the bottom line needs an immediate boost. That might be acceptable as a one-off, as we can all understand that, on occasion, desperate times call for desperate measures. But you can start to get into trouble if dipping in and out of the training budget starts to become normal behaviour.
The successful management of any business involves a degree of healthy competition for, and the careful allocation of, a range of finite resources. So it's no surprise that there's always pressure on areas that some might see as 'discretionary'. That's a heading that training and development shouldn't come under but all too often it does.
The key question should be: does your business have a culture that supports and encourages development from within or not? It's only when training and development is ingrained into the ethos of a business that everyone can gain confidence in what they are doing and where they are heading within it.
Now, some might say that's all well and good for large businesses, but what happens in a smaller company where the concern may be "I've only got a small team, so when I train someone they're just going to take advantage and then leave"? Well, what's the alternative? The danger is more along the lines of "what happens if you don't train them and they stay"?
The size of your business really shouldn't be a factor in how you view the development of your people. How and on what scale you tackle it will of course vary but at the end of the day the people in your business really are your business.
That's a bit of an old cliché, but there are still many businesses where the gap between the rhetoric of the CEO and the reality on the ground is too wide. One interesting question all businesses should ask themselves is 'how do you actually view training is it an investment or a cost?'
That might help you answer Mr Wanamaker's question. In my experience people who actively manage their investments are usually pretty hot on getting the best returns possible and don't generally invest their money into something without having first worked out what they wanted to achieve in the first place!
Guy Moreton is director of recruitment practitioner MorePeople.