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How to Have Fun at Executive Dinners, Urgency - Coté's Commonplace Book - Issue #69

How to Have Fun at Executive Dinners, Urgency - Coté's Commonplace Book - Issue #69
By Coté • Issue #69 • View online
I’m in Istanbul for a talk at Java Days Istanbul tomorrow. I’ve been publishing stuff to my old blog a lot at, which is fun. Here are two things, one a quick link to a piece I’ve been sitting in for awhile about doing “executive dinners” and then a write-up of the need for urgency to change. Pardon the lack of formatting a such, I’m on my phone in a hotel lounge tapping this out. The lamb was good.

How to run fun and interesting executive dinners, events, etc
How to do fun and interesting executive dinners, round tables, etc. – online and in-person – Coté
Why urgency matters
In case you don’t like videos, here’s my script for the “people need urgency to change” tiny video. These “scripts” are always longer than what I actually do. I don’t follow the script, I just try to remember what to say. And do a lot of re-takes (on the spot) and editing. Anyhow:
People in organizations don’t really want to change. They need a strong reason to change that directly effects them. They have to be threatened by loss of their comfort and compensation. If you’re looking to successfully do digital transformation, you’re going to need an external threat to drive urgency. Let’s look at more.
But, hey, first of all, if you are changing how you do software to improve your organization, put your cloud strategy in place, and all that, check out my free book, Monolithic Transformation. Go to to get it for free.
Without a reason to change, you might as well not try. When you’re changing how people do software, you’re telling people that how they’ve been working is no longer useful, it’s damaging your organization. This is frustrating to people: they’ve been successful so far, and now you want them to learn something new and take on the risk of working in a new way with new people. That’s a lot of work!
Now, there’s lots of tricks to get this change through, but one of the most important is to get some urgency to change into the system. Something that threatens individuals comfort, position, and money-flow. If people feel threatened, they will change.
About five years ago, this threat was competition from tech companies - banking startups; Amazon in retail and IT; Tesla in automotive; AirBnB in travel…Uber and so on. Executives at that time were freaking out, and they managed to use that urgency to change how they operated. Existing organizations caught up enough to be competitive. And, also, many of those tech startups found out how hard it is to build a business. Things equalized again.
The urgency could also be external regulations and laws. These can be new banking regulations like open banking in Europe; privacy standards like GDPR; and new government programs like COVID loans, and the need for curb-side pick-up and delivery.
In IT there’s also the urgency of rising costs and obsolescence. You might need to move or an old version of your ERP software before support costs to way up, or you might be loosing skills as mainframe programmers retire. These aren’t the best forms of urgency as they don’t directly effect individuals, but they’re OK because at least they’re clear and real.
So, if you want to change, find an urgency. As one CEO described it, you never want to run in the red, in crisis mode. But, you also don’t want to run in the green, with everything being just fine. You always want to run in the yellow, teetering on the cliff of failure if things go wrong. “Only the paranoid survive,” the saying goes. 
And, if you don’t have any real urgency, you need to create some. You need to find some story, hopefully sort of true, about why change is needed, an external threat.
For more, check out my free book on how organizations are doing digital transformation, Monolithic Transformation, for free. Just go to
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