How to Stay Scrappy

And keep your team happy.

 That Scrappy Spirit

If you’ve ever worked on a small team with limited resources, you’ve probably felt it — that scrappy spirit. That itch that gets you going when the going gets tough. That burst of motivation when they say you aren’t good enough.

Time and time again, I’ve seen how amazing things happen when you tap into that feeling of scrappiness. But how do you keep that scrappy spirit as your team gets bigger?

A few months ago, I joined the Dropbox Paper team. By that time, the team had already grown to a pretty big size. I still remember my first team meeting and thinking we could probably fill a whole movie theater. (I was already daydreaming about offsites, I guess.)

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Now I’m a few months into it, and I’ve noticed something: Even as our team gets bigger, we’ve somehow kept the scrappy spirit of a small team. I don’t know if this happened by chance or by design, but here are my theories about how we stay scrappy.

Progress over Process

The other day, I was chatting with our Group Product Manager, Kavitha Radhakrishnan, and she said something that knocked the wind out of me:

“Specs become outdated as soon as you’ve written them.”

If you read my story about design docs, you know how I love me some good documentation. But as I thought more about my recent projects, I realized she was on to something.

Specs are great for getting aligned on a project’s goals and scope. But once you start putting your concepts into code, things rarely go as planned. At that point, progress becomes the priority. Documentation becomes an afterthought.