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Magical Project Management
by Sloan Campbell


I really enjoy Magic and pretty much always have … all kinds of Magic … Magic that is sometimes known as Sorcery (a conceptual system that asserts human ability to control the natural world including events, objects, people, and physical phenomena through mystical, paranormal or supernatural means)1 and Magic that is a performing art that entertains an audience by creating illusions of impossible or supernatural feats, using purely natural means.2

Recently, I came across an interesting article discussing The Seven Laws of Magic. The Seven Laws of Magic are intended to guard against the abuse of magic by wizards against other wizards and humans. Wizards in violation of the Laws are called Warlocks and can be spared from the punishment of execution if a wizard from the White Council (The White Council is the governing body of the Wizard community in the world. They primarily protect humanity from abuses of magic, but also shield this world from the Sidhe and other creatures that wish humanity harm. It is also a political and democratic organization seeking to unite Wizards throughout the world, and can make or break treaties with the other supernatural powers as necessary. The Council is governed by a Senior Council of seven wizards, with the leader referred to as the Merlin. Beyond the Senior Council, which constitutes the executive branch, there are the actual wizards of the council that contribute to the legislative branch. The Judicial branch belongs to the Wardens, a combination police force and military. Meetings of the Council are traditionally conducted in Latin, a procedural point which has, not coincidentally, served to keep younger wizards from gaining too much standing or momentum by making it very difficult for them to speak eloquently or even coherently to the rest of the Council) takes responsibility for them.

The Seven Laws of Magic are as follows:

  1. Thou shalt not kill by use of magic.
  2. Thou shalt not transform others.
  3. Thou shalt not invade the mind of another.
  4. Thou shalt not enthrall another.
  5. Thou shalt not reach beyond the borders of life.
  6. Thou shalt not swim against the Currents of Time.
  7. Thou shalt not seek beyond the Outer Gates.3

These Laws of Magic made me think that there should be similar Laws for Project Management, which would be referred to forever more as the Magical Laws of Project Management. I honestly don't believe that they would make magical things happen to our projects, but they might just make Project Management the envy of all other professions … if it isn't already … and guard against the abuse of Project Management by PMPs (Project Management Professionals) against other PMPs and Managers.

The First Law of Magic was derived so that Wizards of the White Council are forbidden to kill human beings through the use of their power. The law is very flexible, however, in regards to things that are not actually human. A wizard may kill, for example, a vampire, ghoul, or any being of the Nevernever without penalty. From the First Law of Magic we create the First Magical Law of Project Management …

1. Thou shalt not kill Creativity by use of Project Management - A PMP is forbidden from killing (or stifling) any project team members creativity or innovative endeavours through use of their inherent power (or leadership style).

The Second Law of Magic prohibits the transformation of another's body against their will (i.e. changing a man into an animal) this creates an imbalance between body and mind that ultimately degrades the transformed subject's mind to an animal state as well. (Transformation of oneself through magic is not necessarily as destructive, but still risky and potentially hazardous). Based on the the Second Law of Magic we create the Second Magical Law of Project Management …

2. Thou shalt not Transform current Managers into PMPs - A PMP must never FORCE or COERSE a project team member, Project Manager or other Manager to pursue a PMP Designation against their will or better judgement.

The Third Law of Magic bans forcible magical violation of someone's mind by extracting knowledge against their will. Mind magic is so dangerous that the Council has not even dared trying to explore how to build better defenses, which gives an advantage to black wizards less bound by scruples. The Third Law of Magic leads us to the Third Magical Law of Project Management …

3. Thou shalt not Invade the Mind or Ideas of another Project Manager - A PMP, under no circumstances, can take credit for another individual's work or ideas. Great ideas do not come along everyday, so when they do, the person who developed the idea should execute it. Success almost never comes from a mind-blowing idea … Success comes from a mind-blowing idea executed amazingly well!

The Fourth Law Of Magic expressly forbids dominating another human's mind and personality through magic by binding their will to your own. So long as the wizard in question does not actually control the being through magic, the law is not broken. A popular alternative is trapping the creature in a magic circle until it accepts the terms of a bargain, though some Wardens have ignored this distinction in their zeal. The Fourth Law of Magic pushes us towards the Fourth Magical Law of Project Management …

4. Thou shalt not hold Captive another Project Team Member - Never, under any circumstances, will a PMP hold his or her project team captivated in a meeting.

Pay attention to the times on your meeting agenda and adhere to them as closely as you can … within reason. If you've addressed all agenda items and the meeting is running out of steam, end the meeting. A project issues list should also be used to add some energy to the meeting and to ensure that the discussion stays focused on solving real problems. This will help your team to concentrate on the important deliverables and will leave everyone feeling like they accomplished something while spending their valuable time sitting in a conference room for one or more hours.4

The Fifth Law of Magic prohibits the learning and practice of necromancy (a form of divination in which the practitioner seeks to summon "operative spirits" or "spirits of divination", for multiple reasons, from spiritual protection to wisdom), described as the summoning, binding, and exploitation of the unwilling dead. The psychic talent of mediums for speaking to willing spirits is called ectomancy, and is not governed by the same Law. It would also theoretically prohibit any attempt to genuinely resurrect someone from the dead back to true life. The Fifth Law of Magic reveals the Fifth Magical Law of Project Management …

5. Thou shalt not reach Beyond the Borders of the Project Management Life Cycle - No matter if a project is simple or extremely complex, the PMP MUST always work within the limits of the Project Management Life Cycle (Initiating - Planning - Executing - Controlling - Closing). The Project Management Life Cycle is different from the Project Life Cycle, but the terms are often confused. The project life cycle refers to the development phases that a project can go through, for example:

Evaluate - Design - Build - Test - Launch

Design - Code - Test - Train - Release

The phases that a project goes through are determined by the nature of the project. The project life cycle is tailored to suit individual project needs. In contrast, the project management life cycle stays the same for all projects.

The Sixth Law of Magic bars any attempt to change the past through temporal manipulation for fear of paradox. Even divination of the future is frowned upon in all but the vaguest, most general instances. The Sixth Law of Magic opens the door for the Sixth Magical Law of Project Management …

6. Thou shalt not ignore History - A PMP must NEVER ignore the requirement to compile Lessons Learned or consult previously documented Lessons Learned, provided they exist. Whether managing one project or a group of Project Managers who manage multiple projects, the value of lessons-learned sharing and communication should not be undervalued. It can be the difference between total project success and missing key milestones and project delay.

A large number of Project Managers operate in an industry where the projects they manage will have similar components and attributes as previously managed projects (i.e. IT, construction, telecommunications, etc.).

Therefore, although the exact project with all its attributes may not be repeated, the lessons-learned documentation and communication should occur. It may well save the next project or another project manager's position for that matter.5

The Seventh Law of Magic references the Outer Gates … it is unknown just what the Outer Gates are, but the implication is that they mark the furthest boundaries of a Wizard's multiverse. Beings from beyond the Gates are known only as Outsiders, and are among the deadliest threats to humanity known … their sheer existence is antithetical to the universe and they are noted as being immune to most magic. The Seventh Law of Magic spawns from the Seventh Magical Law of Project Management …

7. Thou shalt not Venture beyond the Concepts of the PMBOK - The PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge) divides the Project Management Life Cycle into five process groups. The process groups are made up of 44 separate management processes. These management processes are further subdivided into nine knowledge areas. A PMP MUST use the PMBOK as the reference tool that it was designed to be, not as a template for managing projects. The Project Management Life cycle is a fundamental concept of Project Management that MUST be customized and tailored as required for each project.

The Magical Laws of Project Management may never become 'absolute' by themselves, but it might just be magical how much they can help some of your projects find their way to (or back to) success …

  1. Thou shalt not kill Creativity by use of Project Management.
  2. Thou shalt not Transform current Managers into PMPs.
  3. Thou shalt not Invade the Mind or Ideas of another Project Manager.
  4. Thou shalt not hold Captive another Project Team Member.
  5. Thou shalt not reach Beyond the Borders of the Project Management Life Cycle.
  6. Thou shalt not ignore History.
  7. Thou shalt not Venture beyond the Concepts of the PMBOK.

Abracadabra …


1. Magic [Paranormal]:
2. Magic [Illusion]:
3. Seven Laws of Magic:
4. 82 Secrets of Project Management Success:
5. Lessons Learned:


The Author


Sloan Campbell is an Implementation Project Manager at SOCAN (Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada). SOCAN is an organization that administers the communication and performing rights of virtually the world's entire repertoire of copyright-protected music, when it is used in Canada. You can e-mail your comments to the author at .

Many more articles in Project Management in The CEO Refresher Archives
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Copyright 2008 by Sloan Campbell. All rights reserved.

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