Table Stakes

During a recent conversation a few buzzwords were used and one was Table Stakes. An individual in the discussion had a bad reaction to the term. He explained that in a previous role the term was frequently used to shut down dialogue and questions. For example, if a someone inquired about the priority or necessity of certain capabilities then the term Table Stakes would be used to end the conversation, no discussion or argument.

How might we improve communication and promote conversation when using this buzzword?

What are Table Stakes?

I like to conduct business conversations within frameworks that provide structure and promote thinking from multiple points of view. One framework that includes Tables Stakes (it calls them Must-be or Basic Expectations) is the Kano Model. The Kano Model measures Satisfaction vs. Functionality. Table Stakes is a reference to the Functionality, specifically what is known as Basic Expectations. Someone who says, this is Table Stakes, is implying that Satisfaction will be low without the Basic Expectations Functionality. Understanding this is how we might begin to improve communication when using this buzzword. Broaden the conversation and discuss Satisfaction and Functionality together as a mathematical function. If we focus on the desired outcome instead of specific functionality then the Basic Expectations will reveal themselves.

In Summary:

  • Table Stakes is a buzzword
  • Broaden the conversation using the Kano Model
  • Focus on the desired outcome (a function of Satisfaction and Functionality)

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