I was recently described by a Venture Capital Partner as "scrappy" and that I can add more value to an early start-up than a later stage startup. I was puzzled by what he meant by that and asked a CEO from one of his portfolio companies who knew this VC Partner well over the last 25 years. This CEO said "scrappy is an attribute that means you do what's needed to get the job done, not focused on managing your title, a street fighter."
I guess this sounds like me. I always thought of me as a the steady guy who keeps his cool under pressure and instills best practice processes to steer the ship through all weather. But this analysis of my past 15 years of management in high technology industries illustrates a different view through a different colored lens. I've always been adaptive to changing needs in an organization and on many occasions stepped in or asked someone to step in to fill gaps that exist, even if they transcend the defined title or role.
I spent the last year and a half making the transition from a waterfall software development lifecycle to an agile one. There are a several tenants of an agile lifecycle that make this work, yet in an early startup sometimes you have to break in the process to adapt to a sudden need of the organization. I understand the value of not disrupting the stride of the Engineering organization too often or you wear out your crew. However, if you only work in rigid processes without the flexibility to adapt quickly you may not win enough battles to keep in the war and reach your goals.
Interesting reading about the Scrappy Executive... http://www.founderblog.com/2007/01/so-you-need-to-develop-product.html