Stress, relaxation….and a new venue


Wed 15th June saw DOPM try out a new venue at the Wig and Pen in Oxford. Personally, I’ll miss the charm of the howling dog and the mouse-eaten Christmas decorations that came with the White House… but some people have higher standards than me it seems.

Despite the appalling rain, the turnout was great and there were a few new faces, so hopefully the more central venue works for everyone (please let us know what you think).

The Evening kicked off with Stephen facilitating a session on stress, stress triggers and how we can resolve them. It was meant to be co-run with Ian May, but the stress of Oxford traffic delayed his arrival… (oh the irony).


It’s testament to the openness of DOPM members that this ended up being a really honest and insightful session. It’s all too easy to be blaze about our jobs and forget that stress accounts for about 35% of all ill-health cases at work. Most people will know someone who has been personally impacted by severe stress (or they will have had this grim experience theirselves).

Slides for this talk are here:


Following this was the amazing Calliste giving her inaugural DOPM talk. It was a screen-free zone as we got amazing flip-chart sketch notes to accompany her honest and inspiring talk. There were numerous nods in the audience as Calliste recounted an all-too familiar tale of late hours, juggling numerous balls, ill-health and essentially putting too much value/attachment on ‘a job’.

Thankfully the story had a happy ending. You can read Calliste’s blog on this subject:

What really hit home for me, was the need to enjoy my free time more and do more things ‘for me’. A great insight I took away was to ‘think about the stuff you liked to do when you were ten years old’ as its highly likely that stuff still provides great enjoyment and stress relief for you now (e.g. football, art, comics, writing being silly).

Finally, it all got super-groovy and we took off our shoes to become uber-relaxed and completely de-stressed with the the amazing Laura Sewell from Resonate Yoga.

It’s hard to cover what we did… breathing in and out doesn’t make for good writing, but this was a massive hit for me. I left feeling really chilled and since that point I’ve signed up for Headspaces’s free 10for10 program . Along with some other changes I’m making, I’m kind of hoping this could be the start of some big adjustments in my life that lead to positive outcomes.

So friendly people, brave and intimate tales of dealing with stress, life-changing stillness and free drinks courtesy of Austin Fraser and Gather Content… I’d say a pretty good night all in all.

If you’re not already coming to DOPM… you really should. If you already come, please keep spreading the word… there’s something good going on here.





An Introduction to Servant Leadership….and more

Wednesday the 10th of February marked the first DO PM of 2016. It reminded me that ‘the DPM meetup idea’ we had back in Autumn 2014 has since become an established event which has been running for well over a year.  It’s been really great to see a consistent crowd of familiar faces and every event always brings a new arrival and more often than not we receive lovely feedback like this. Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 12.30.45

To kick off 2016 we were really lucky to have Gez Smith, talking about Servant Leadership. Rather than me writing about it. You can watch the whole talk below (another first for DO PM – our first recording):

Gez is director of Bunny Picnic, which offers training and consultancy in agile servant leadership and agile communications. Find out more at

My key takeaways were:

  • Servant Leadership is a topic that has a depth of academic thinking behind it
  • Being a servant leader is extremely challenging and while its a likely path to personal and job satisfaction it doesn’t always mean you will do well in your career especially if you are in organizations that don’t value servant leaders
  • Many organisations are structured to put the needs of the CEO first and the needs of the customer last
  • Being a servant leader can turn the job of PM or Scrum Master into a deeply fulfilling, almost spiritual vocation.

It was a great talk and certainly inspired a number of attendees.

Following up for Gez’s talk we were lucky enough to debut two new speakers. One of our missions for 2016 is to have more talks from within the DO PM community and to provide a safe space for people to talk for the first time.

Melissa Wilson was brave enough to become our first new speaker of 2016. Melissa is a DPM at Incuna and gave a fascinating talk on the perils of transitioning an agency from a waterfall process to an agile process. Melissa has done an incredible job at Incuna often having to go ‘undercover’ to show how certain agile processes would benefit the wider company. once the results of these had proved themselves they were quickly adopted.

You can view Mel’s slide – complete with awesome cat Gifs here:


Charlie Davidson, DPM at Ridgeway Digital gave a fascinating round up of DPM:UK 16. His talk showed how the DPM community is growing year on year in the UK. There were so many knowledge shares from his talk that we can’t reproduce them all here, but it was testement to what a thriving, exciting industry it is to be part of.

Our next event will be in April, follow us on Twitter or sign up to our mailing list to stay informed.

DO PM goes Kanban Crazy


Wed 17th June turned out to be a great night for DO PM. We had a really good turnout and the feedback we received was very warm and positive.

We were looking at the subject of Kanban; both its origins and how its principles affect our day to day work. The evening started with Steve ‘Danger Zone’ Thomas introducing a potted history of Kanban and some of the principles behind it.

His slides are available here: Kanban Slides

Following that Anthony Glass introduced the first of the night’s activities. Teams split into groups of 4 and had to follow a process, involving four distinct sets of task.  The activity was based on the lego activity here:

Kanban Lego Game

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Following two round of this game, we learned some valuable lessons.


In the first run through, teams followed no system which lead to major bottlenecks at the third stage of production. In the second run through each station was only allowed to start their next task once the previous station had picked up their delivery. This began to iron out the cycle time.

The results were really astonishing. The second method had a lot less work in progress (as you might expect) when the time ran out, but most of the teams actually ended up producing more goods. Primarily because there was less stress, and less clutter building up on the table. You could argue that teams became more efficient through experience but overall it was a really effective demonstration of how a well organised system can improve production.

The next game related to batch sizing. It was based on the coin game detailed here:

Coin Game 

Teams of 4 had to flip over 20 coins before passing them onto the next station. We started with one batch of twenty and then gradually reduced the batches to 10, then 5 and then let teams pick their own process. Not only did it show that smaller batches resulted in significantly faster production rates; this was also a good demonstration of continuous improvement – as teams were having mini retrospectives at the end of each round as to how they could improve their process.

Overall it was a great night and a fun introduction to the principles behind Kanban. We didn’t really have the time (or expertise) to get into a detailed breakdown of how to run Kanban software projects, but we have included further reading for those that want to pick this up and take it further. Judging by the enthusiasm for last night’s session, it may be that we choose to revisit Kanban at a later date with a guest speaker or a more specific focus. Leave a comment if you’d like to see this or have any further suggestions for meet-up topics.

Useful web resources we referenced

Recommended Reading

Please post any other useful resources you know of in the comments