As folk have already mentioned, it only seems obvious. It seems obvious to the IT staff, and very probably to their managers.
The real problem occurs when said manager goes to the Finance Director and says : "I need an additional 25k in my budget next year so we can send ten of our staff on three day courses."
And the FD replies with something along the lines of :"AAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAAAA."
In big orgs with internal markets and cost centres and all that jazz, I've seen it even worse. In a multinational with USD 26 Billion turnover, developers were unable even to obtain technical books. They weren't authorised to spend anything, and nor were their team leaders. And even if they had been, they would have had to charge back to the 'client', because there was literally no budget (outside of headcount) for the dev team.
The departmental higher ups wouldn't order books either, because "If we do it once, we'll have to do it for everyone". Well Duh! At the same time, this org regularly fed it's visiting external clients a buffet that included caviar. Yes, you read that right. From the cube farm where the dev team sat, they could quite literally sit and watch through the glass wall as the directors and their high value clients stuffed their faces with caviar in the meeting rooms. But somehow these same people couldn''t pony up a few quid for a few decent manuals. Try, if you will, to imagine that as a motivator. * This may seem hard to credit, so I have to reiterate that they really did buy shed loads of caviar, which staff were able to verify because after these meetings were finished, the leavings would be placed in a staff common area for people to pick over. How thoughtful.
I blame the metrics personally, most places don't know how to measure what IT does.
There's no direct bottom line number for the bean counters to grasp. And that's about the only thing they care about. Lets say your dev team work unpaid overtime for two months and deliver a really good system that makes your sales team 50% more efficient. Where does that number go on the spreadsheet ? Under "Sales", obviously.
Bonuses all round for the sales droids, on top of their generous commission, and the IT team get bought a pint out of their managers pocket. w00t!
There is a solution to this, also sponsored by the DotBO, and also so "obvious" that no one ever actually bothers to do it, which is to measure user experience (quarterly, or oftener, survey which you will have to design very carefully) and follow this up with frequent, formalised contact with stakeholders from your user base.
Every time I've implemented this, the result is a steady increase in the overall figure for "user satisfaction" or whatever you want to call it. (Seriously, you'll score points just for asking). It hasn't, yet, resulted in what the IT people always fear when you suggest this to them, e.g a crowd of angry users wielding pitchforks and a huge backlash against the IT function. Yet. But let's face it, if your org is likely to go that way anyway, you really NEED to be doing this.
In addition, you get to go the FD and say things like "Deparment X is going to want to implement a [some kind of system] next year" (remember you know this because you've been talking to them about their future plans and likely requirements), "we don't currently have the skills in house to do that, so as part of the project budget there will be a requirement for training in [some system]"
And this works, because you have also communicated this need to whoever goes into bat for Dept X, and who is now your best buddy, and will therefore push for the budget to be allocated because it's now her pet project, and she doesn't want her critical path being b0rked.
Of course it's not always quite as easy as I'm making out, but at least it gives you a metric that actually means something, and a stack of numbers which you can make pretty charts and powerpoints from, these are always helpful when dealing with bean counter types. You also build meaningful relationships and channels of communication with the people who matter most. Your users.
As an extra bonus, you get to write the process up using all the buzzwords that pointy hairs like, "empowerment", "ownership", "buy in" and all that bollocks. You can probably even get away with using "leveraging" and "synergies", possibly even in the same sentence.
While I'm busy pontificating, a handy hint for IT management types is that most decent IT folk (not the paper tigers, I suspect) are actually quite good at educating themselves. But you need to give them time to do it. Fridays are good for this, especially Friday afternoons when everyone would otherwise be slacking off and posting lengthy flames to El Reg in any case. Make every friday, or every other friday or whatever you can spare (rotate people if you have to) a Skills Development and R&D day, and watch your team's productivity go sky high.
Getting this past your next layer of pointy hairs will be the single most politically difficult task you will ever face, though. You may well have to settle for less, or something a little more flexible. That's OK.
* In case you're wondering, every single developer in that department applied for voluntary redundancy in oh, about the second round of "rightsizing". None of them were granted it. All their jobs were subsequently offshored to an Indian contractor. Nice.