Table Stakes

Where does the term “table stakes” come from?  I knew it was a gambling term, and in my corporate life it was a frontrunner in the jargon soup we used every day, but what does it really mean? “Table stakes are the minimum offer to be considered a viable player, whether you are at the poker table or the boardroom table (from a great article here by Colin Finke).”  

So, for the IT Leader, I pose that Production Stability is table stakes when it comes to moving the IT function from an order taker to a trusted partner with a seat in the boardroom. It must be the primary focus, because when done poorly, it consumes your entire focus and robs you of the opportunity to do more than just survive, let alone move to the next focus area of Delivery.

Production Stability is about operating the current platform, and mature production stability processes allow the identification and prioritization of issues that must be addressed in order to have the opportunity to Deliver value added capabilities. For this reason, let me say up front that Quality Assurance is not discussed here!  One could argue that application quality assurance must be a focus area of production stability, but I put that under the Delivery domain, which will be discussed in a future article. 

Below are outlined what I believe are the four most important production stability processes that must be in place in some form in order to drive production stability improvement.  These are certainly not the only topics that fall under this heading, but these are the fundamental instrumentation required to drive stability improvements. Similar to your car’s dashboard instrumentation: you can drive your car without it for a while, but you risk catastrophic failure.  

Do these four areas resonate with you?  Next article… Delivery!