Failing Magically, No. 02

It’s Thursday, my favorite day of the week! I hope you enjoy this issue, I had a great time putting it together.

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Disney, not so magical after-all 😕

Let’s go ahead and set the stage for what’s sure to be a they vs. them fight that we’re unlikely to see the results of,

The project … deteriorated into a dysfunctional construction mess brought about by a multitude of contract breaches by Disney, which fatally interfered with the project.

I don’t often use the term “jaw dropping,” and of course we are only given the info that’s presented within (I recommend reading it), but the reported behavior of Disney’s Project Manager is indeed jaw dropping, if not disgusting. While many may look at the issue as being a male vs. female issue, I’m going to go beyond that (for now). This is an issue of leadership.

It matters not whether you’re male, female, trans, or otherwise- it’s my opinion that Disney’s leadership, specifically their project manager, and maybe their boss, was way out of line and perhaps created the environment of dysfunction, as noted above, all by themself.

Here’s a few quips from the article that I particularly have heartburn with;

  • The PM “team discovered one building violated fire and building codes.”

  • Disney’s accusal of “refusing to maintain a conspiracy of silence.”

  • Disney’s PM calling the contracted PM a “fat bitch” and “grumpy cat” in front of the team.

Again, the information is only as good as the source, so even taking it with a grain of salt there was, 1) absolutely no need for the contract PM/team to be spoken to like this. Especially the misogynistic comments in the professional setting (or ever for that matter). And 2) regarding the safety issues, accusing of the contract PM of not keeping that a “secret.” Major faux pasI wouldn’t have either if you weren’t going to fix or address it.

Pressure, time, and money no doubt played a big factor into the outcome of this ordeal. While Disney parks are supposed to be the “happiest place on earth,” I can’t say the same for their leadership.

Addressing the problem(s)

I’m not a safety technician, so I dare not speak out of turn on that issue. That noted though, I think making the issue know in court was the right thing to do. I can, however, speak to the leadership issues. This of course is being done within a bubble, having not been present.

At its highest level, this is clearly an issue of tainted leadership. Be it someone who’s on a power trip or outright unable to properly perform at that level (titles mean shit if your can’t live up to it). Nonetheless, it begs the question, how do you deal with this type of customer or team member? If they’re working as a member of your team, and you’re confronted with this type of issue, it’s clearly a sign that they need to be spoken too. As their PM you can handle this by way of a simple discussion or a mentoring session. All the same, ensure it’s documented.

Proper documentation applies to dealing with the customer too. Without it, no case is made if there’s a need for arbitration or a court setting. In my opinion, the contracted PM lead did the right thing in raising the issues with unnecessary comments and unresolved safety issues. With regard to the leadership issues they were faced with from the Disney side, the issue was addressed directly; status-quo of what leadership at the top should have done.

A meeting between the construction company and Disney execs was held to discuss [the PM’s] behavior in February.

From the vantage point of being at the top of your own organization, all you can do is address the issues with your peer (or above) within the customer’s organization. If all else fails, and the level of toxicity continues to increase, it may be time to sever ties and move on.

What would you have done?

Consider supporting (we all hate ads)

How many phases does PM really have? 🤔 (it’s a trap! and a learning moment)

Opinions are a lot like Jimmy Buffet’s take on relationships, “We all got 'em, we all want 'em. What do we do with 'em?” Well, when it comes to standardizing the craft of project management there can be only so many opinions before you start to confuse people who know otherwise… or do they?

Case in point, are there three, four or five phases to Project Management? I’ll give you a hint, the parent site to this newsletter is called Project Management Five. And yes, I’m really asking this… in a rhetorical manner, however.

Truth be told, it’s a trick question, I’ll get to the answer in a moment. (And the five in my site’s name actually stems from the fact that I have five children.)

This whole discussion/thought came about after I read this press release which has this headline: “Lydia Keith Discusses the Four Phases That Makeup Project Management.” There are not four phases.

Why am I making a big deal about this? As one who’s made it their mission to help educate the PM field and future PMs, I want to be sure everyone is on the same page. That noted, there are in fact no official number of phases in project management. Mind blown! 🤯

Let’s learn.

Many of us learn about the Five Phases of PM. It’s a misnomer. Many in the industry are taught that Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring & Controlling, and Closing are the “Five Phases.” However, they are not. Looking at our bible of PM, the Program Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK6), it’s noted,

Project Management Process Group. A logical grouping of project management inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs. The Project Management Process Groups include initiating processes, planningprocesses, executing processes, monitoring and controlling processes, and closing processes. Project Management Process Groups are not project phases.

It goes further to tell us what a phase is too,

Project Phase. A collection of logically related project activities that culminates in the completion of one or more deliverables.

I bring this up as a technicality. Not to throw shade at anyone who states it. As you continue on your path through the world of Project Management, remember that words have meanings. Don’t confuse your teams and those who are learning the craft, please.

Am I wrong?

P.S. There are, however, Five Phases in Emergency Management, just so you know. ;)

What Andrew Lloyd Webber can teach you about being a leader 🎼

Andrew Lloyd Webber, the English composer responsible for songs from musicals such as Phantom of the Opera and Cats (the play, NOT the movie, thank goodness) has become an unannounced leader in today’s society. Not to stand on a political podium here, but Webber has taken the stance of doing what it takes to get the job done.

Receiving a coronavirus vaccine as part of a clinical trial at the University of Oxford he states,

“I’ll do anything to get theatres large and small open again and actors and musicians back to work[.]”

How does this possibly relate to being a project manager? Easy, as a PM you (they) are the leader of the group. By stepping up to support the end goal, Webber is providing the needed leadership, albeit unintentionally, to the theater industry. As the PM your actions will/do dictate the path forward in a team and their project.

(Oh, I just come up with a new catch phrase, “Be a Webber, lead the team.” <- Trademark that!)

It’s the seemingly little things that you an I do while leading our team and our projects that can make the difference in the outcome and the team dynamic across the span of the schedule. If your team is struggling, perhaps you need to stay late, or get your hands dirty to get the job done to show them you’re a leader that cares. I’ve made the point before (earlier this week in fact), our job as a project manager comes with the default minor-label of teacher.

Be the leader they need you to be.

Project Management Digital Tools Review: Myko

Welcome to my second tool review, today it’s the tool Myko.

Site/motoMyko, Make your sprint retrospectives more effective

BLUF: Works as advertised, cleanly.

As I noted in last week’s TSR, I combed through IndieHackers' data until I found some independent developers working on project management tools, sites, and applications. I emailed several of the developers of these apps with two questions:

  1. How long have you been working on getting the site to where it is now; and

  2. What drove you/your team to create the app?

Myko’s Jackson was a little harder to get in touch with, but I managed to get ahold of them from their Twitter page. They answered,

1. I've been working on myko for about a year and a half, with the idea first coming in March 2019

2. There are some other online retro tools out there but they all either (a) looked rough around the edges or (b) were very slow or cumbersome to use. This will sound corny, but I've found sprint retrospectives to be a source of joy (and of course pain) as a lot of times [a retro] will start with "What went well". With myko I wanted the tool to compliment this - to be something that felt nice to use, and was also easy and quick enough for anyone to pick up and understand so that it wasn't a hinderance to the retro process. I always found post-it notes used in physical retro's to be too hard to read in in-person meetings, and impossible to keep track of if you're [dialing] in remotely via video.

Here’s what I based my review on:

  1. Visually; is the site/app appealing to look at design wise?

  2. Ease of use; is the site/app easy to use or are there hints/tips or a noticeable help menu?

  3. Tools; as a PM what tools does this site/app have that can help me and my team?

  4. Practicality; it is practical to use this site/app everyday or on a regular basis?

  5. Overall; was the overall user experience good, bad, or ugly?

Myko, a review


Nice and clean. The color pallet is easy on the eyes and the fonts are clean and simple to read. Nothing tacky. Event the phone version looks good (screen shot at bottom).

Ease of use

Set up was straight forward and the intro pop-up upon my first opening was quick and to the point showing me how to set up the board and described the method of making votes anonymous.


Board(s): The Kanban-style boards are nice, however, they’re currently the only thing that’s working on the site at the moment. But it works well. One of my favorite parts of this is the ability to keep the votes of those online anonymous which should provide better feedback. You can also export the boards. Also, you can edit the board names and colors without hassle.

Profile setup, team, analytics, and billing pages are still a work in progress.


From the stance of a simple retro-board, it would be easy to use daily with your teams from anywhere in the world. While I’m unsure what the missing tools/pages would allow you to do, it works as is, and works well.


As a simple retrospective board, Myko works as advertised. It’s clean, easy to read, and super easy to use. Even without the other pages working right now I’d recommend this  tool for what it is. Great work Jackson.

Thank for reading Project Management Five’s The Stakeholder Report. ~ryan