How to explain Agile to beginners?

joshgun karimov
4 min readOct 7, 2021


Movie scene from Ford vs Ferrari

I received a call. “Would you like to be our Agile Coach?” it said. It was intriguing. I was hearing about Agile for 3 years straight but never got to sit down and go deep searching about it. Why did they think that I was the proper guy for this job? What is this job all about?

Many conversations and searches later, I understood that everyone has a bit different opinion about what are the key concepts of this mindset. I was about to give up when one movie blinked its way into my brain.

One of the best ways to understand Agile Mindset and Challenges to Agile Project Management is to sit down and watch Ford vs Ferrari movie. (Take notes while watching it because no school will teach better.) I did this because googling and talking to multiple Agile people was very confusing at first. This movie helps you to see the main ingredients of successful Agile projects. You see planning, collaboration and delivery in a very epic light.

“We have been thinking wrong!”

Marketing team offers Ford Motors to change their vision and deal with the fact of “Ferrari Legacy”. They want the shortcut and try to buy the Italian brand. Later, they understand that Enzo has used them to get Fiat interested in acquisition. Ford decides to create new “tribe” which will build a new product, Ford GT 40.

“We are going to build a race car.”

Ford Motors decides to add one specific project to their portfolio. One project that is insanely ambitious and different from traditional approach of the brand.

“They want us to do this in 90 days.”

Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles are the key players in this project. Ford knows that Ford knows nothing about Le Mans Race and how to win it. Shelby knows the race (ex champion of it) and Ken Miles knows the cars (Best engineer and craftsman behind the race cars.)

Ken’s face goes berserk when he listens to the plans of Shelby about Le Mans. They both understand that it is impossible to get the cup in 90 days. Eventually, they start the project.

“We do not want Miles in the Race!”

This part is about stakeholder engagements and how interests can conflict in a toxic way. Ford’s corporate team finds Ken Miles too inappropriate for their PR strategy and they start putting obstacles into Shelby’s timeline.

“Go to war Shelby!”

Shelby loses the first attempt in Le Mans (No Miles, no win.) Ford is furious and wants to know what happened. Shelby tells it all and finishes with a bright note. (We did the record time with a lousy driver and all that corporate mess. Enzo Ferrari saw it.)

“We need a new brake system!”

Ford GT 40 is the car of this project. It is constantly being modified. Car is made much lighter. New engine is made specifically for this car. (More horses.) But this car has one big issue. It’s brake system sucks. Engineer team decides to give it a chance and they redesign the entire system to give this car more endurance during 24 hour race.

“This car can go much faster!”

Ford Motor Cars finish the race with a smashing win. Project is successfully done. Although, corporate poison does effect the Ken Miles legacy. Both Shelby and him decide to continue working on the modification and continuous improvement of the GT 40 Model. They win 4 Le Mans and put the Ford Brand into this pedestal.

This movie shows us 7 domains of Agile Processes:

  1. Agile Mindset (We have been thinking wrong. Ferrari does not make millions of cars but they give people something valuable. Feeling of superiority. Ford needs to give this feeling as well.)
  2. Value Driven Delivery (Le Mans means a lot for Ford Motors Stake holders and Shelby+Miles team.) They all love winning and winning big. They love racing and they love cars. But most importantly they love giving people the best cars. (Miles+Shelby in this case.)
  3. Stakeholder Engagement (We do not want Miles sentence is the pinnacle of the communication problem between stakeholders and team. Both parties have certain priorities. Shelby is trying to adapt to the stakeholder mindset and eventually finds his way out of the labyrinth (takes the big boss for a ride and reminds him about “who is the boss” part of the story.)
  4. Team Performance (Ford has enough money to buy everything but money can not buy the winning performance. Shelby and Miles are the cornerstones of this impossible mission. Their team is very dedicated and they find the engine + brake system solution. They do timely modifications and product is ready to be rolling.
  5. Adaptive Planning (90 days mentality) Shelby and Miles needed to adapt to the new way of working. (Agile Way) They had to change many things along the way. They learned about iterations with stakeholders and race organizers in the hard way. But, they learned it and that is what matters.
  6. Problem Detection and Resolution (Brakes are burning.) There was a moment in the movie where Miles loses the control of his car and he realizes that brakes will be the most important obstacle to winning Le Mans even if everything goes fine. His engineer team hears him and they find a new system which is solid.
  7. Continuous Improvement (Miles dies testing the car.) Story end with very emotional but also with very instructional moment. Shelby and Miles work on the new versions of GT 40 and they test new modifications. Miles loses his life while test-driving.

If you are new in this Agile business and you need some basic understanding start from Ford vs Ferrari. Get to know these 7 domains better. Good luck!



joshgun karimov

Author of five crowdfunded books KVAN, UBUNTU, ALAMO13, ONQAKU and LAMARTIN