6 Table Stakes terms your news org needs for transformation

By Katelyn Chedraoui

At the Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media, we research and identify local news practices and successes and use our findings to educate news organizations who can commit to transformation. Through our Table Stakes program, we help news organizations identify their main problems and create solutions, leading to additional capacity, a growth in revenue, the ability to convert part-time employees to full-time status and more.

In this program, nonprofits, startups and established local news organizations from all over the Southeastern U.S. are brought together for a yearlong training program that allows reporters, managers and teams to work collaboratively.

Led by a roster of coaches with real world experience, news organizations support each other and work together to find creative solutions for the biggest challenges in the industry today. The idea of “table stakes” generally describes the challenges of what it takes to “have a seat at the table” and succeed in today’s publishing era.

Tackling these major issues can seem overwhelming. The Table Stakes program uses a specific framework to help create a network of alumni who support each other and work from a shared vocabulary.

As we’re accepting applications for our fifth cohort until September 30 (apply here), we thought it may be helpful to introduce this vocabulary to see that this is a unique kind of training program that values experience and data in transformation.

To help you get an idea of how this vocabulary can help shape your thinking, we have compiled a list of the 6 most important terms to know:

1. Performance-Driven Change: This is a framework says that the fastest way to change an organization is through performance. In Table Stakes, participants work on their core challenges during the program instead of simply being trained.

2. Wins: The Table Stakes program puts an emphasis on wins, which can help build momentum toward change.

3. Outcomes: Outcomes are when you achieve results that matter! Outcomes can be measured by SMART goals (Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound). The program places an emphasis on outcomes rather than activities, which keep you busy but should not be the end result.

4. Your “North Star”: This is the overall vision for the organization. They are simple, memorable and use meaningful language.

5. Problem Definition: This is a statement that defines what the organization’s biggest challenge. This could address changes in readership, online engagement, revenue or any other problem that you want to address in the program.

6. Activities v. Performance Outcomes: This distinction allows organizations to understand how their business activities, what they are doing, are either helping or hindering their performance outcomes, how they are measuring success. The Table Stakes programs put a huge emphasis on understanding and crafting these!

At its core, the Table Stakes program is designed to help newsrooms and its leaders understand the problems in their organizations and begin to work collaboratively to try to solve them.

To learn more about the Table Stakes program and apply for the next session by September 30, click here.