photo credit Javier Delgado Esteban, used under Creative Commons license

Why scrappy is my

favorite adjective

And that’s not changing anytime soon

scrappy- adj., the ability to accomplish goals despite adversity and limited resources with resilience, notably applied to terriers, shortstops, and entrepreneurs.

Reading TSF applications this week reminded me how fond I am of people who can make things happen. A wide scrappy streak through the thick digital stack of entrepreneurial hopes and dreams reminded me that (luckily) there a bunch of people who qualify, even ones who don’t fit with TSF.

It should come as no big surprise that I’m heartened by this since I’m a public fan of GSD (getting s&^$ done), but I’m not the only one who’s all about it. Eric Ries’s Lean Startup reads as a how-to guide for marrying a scrappy attitude with the scientific method. The “capital efficient companies” that institutional investors talk to me and their companies about are eruditely labeled scrappy, fixer-types doing the most to make their money turn results. Angels, too, want to know what founders accomplish under a myriad of constraints before stroking a check.

And the general modes for company behavior qualify. Team building, scrappy. Growth-hacking, scrappy. Customer aquisition, scrappy. Fundraising, same-same.

Scrappy, in all of these contexts, looks like a focus on outcomes, rather than a particular, predetermined process. In application, this pattern looks like quantifying the desired outcome (hopefully with traction related metrics), start cranking, constantly measure, reevaluate (pivot), and repeat until the goal is met. That intensity can be misdirected to an outcome that doesn’t merit the investment of energy, but the healthiest expression takes into account where this effort is concentrated. (That’s strategy, and that’s an entirely different post-in-the-making.)

If past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior, then my bet is on, and will stay on, the scrappy people in tech, investing, and life writ large.


You can follow me on twitter at @LizzyHazeltine, if you wanna.