4th Global

Mentoring Conference

29th October 2021

4th Global

Mentoring Conference

29th October 2021


Parallel Session 3A – Martin Bless

Mentoring agile projects with Martin Bless

Session on 29 October 2021 14:00 UTC - View on timetable


Project Managers often compare their experience with running a marathon but in a VUCA (Volatile, Unpredictable, Complex and Ambiguous) world, projects are increasingly run as
sprints, aiming at short term results presented to internal or external clients. The core of this Agile approach can be characterized by the following:

Autonomy by empowering the project teams
Generation of short-term results through sprints
Intelligence pooled and collectively shared
Leadership within an autonomous team
Engagement of clients secured through regular feedback

Traditionally in agile projects, we use “Product Owner” and “Scrum Master” to refer to two important leadership roles. Inspired by orienteering as a sport, I prefer to use “Map and
Compass holder” and “Team coach”. Using the widely accepted leadership ontology “DAC”, defining Direction in agile projects is clearly the responsibility of the “Map and Compass
holder” as well as the Alignment of ongoing activities. In Project Management, practices and ethics need to be Aligned with personal values. This should be the focus of the “Team Coach”
along with strengthening Commitment within the team.

During the initial stages of an Agile project, the “Map & compass holder” and the “Team Coach” together with the rest of the team can, in my experience, definitely benefit from the
presence of a “Project Mentor” whose role is to oversee the entire process and accompany the team while facilitating its experiential learning process.

During the initial project sprints, the Mentor can provide, when necessary: advice, training and coaching. The objective of the Mentor is to gradually withdraw from the project when
the team is working autonomously.

EMCC has a new definition of mentoring that focuses on “one to one mentoring”. In this case my presentation is on  the mentoring of groups/ teams.  So the topic of discussion will be the competencies required for mentoring groups / teams.


Martin Bless graduated from Strathclyde University Business School Glasgow with an MSC in 1980.  He spent most of his career in management, first in Marketing, then in Finance, in Supply Chain and lastly in General management. His interest in Management Agility comes from his experience working in the supply chain and refining of precious metals. The precious metal market is notoriously volatile and unpredictable, where fluctuation in raw material prices can seriously impact manufacturing operations. The pressure to remain flexible and continuously adjust in such an environment are huge.


As an independent Mentor, Martin is companying project teams in midsize and large industrial companies introducing agile methodologies. Back in 2014, he initiated the use of Agile practices in the watch industry working for the world largest watch company. In May 2019 he was elected President of EMCC Switzerland.