Why you should NOT work at Frappe

Frappe is an awesome place to work, but not for everyone. Here is an honest attempt to talk about our shortcomings.

 · 4 min read

Frappe is a highly unusual company and people who join it are likely to feel extreme emotions (both sides) about the way things work here. Here is a primer on what you should know before you join so that you are ready for what comes.

Team discussion

Things will be chaotic

In Frappe, we value everyone’s freedom, everyone has way more freedom in the way they work than probably most organizations. While you may be given an offer based on the position you applied for, you still have to figure out how to contribute to the team given the dynamics. That means understanding where the gaps are and trying to find a way to fix them by talking to people who work in the area.

If you are someone who likes order and clean work allocations, then Frappe is not right for you. If you like exploring things you are curious about or learning more about how things work, then Frappe is perfectly right for you.

Things keep changing all the time

Rather than doing something diligently, we think it is more important to ask the question why. Sometimes as you go deeper into a project you discover things that challenge the original hypothesis about why you started the project in the first place. At this point, we think it's not important to finish something just because we started it. It might mean throwing away your work or code. Everyone at Frappe has been part of projects that have been scrapped or changed. When we scrap something we take the learning from the project and apply it to our next project.

It often feels like we are moving in circles, but in reality everytime we come back to the starting point, we are wiser and have more context. We call it spirals!

Critical feedback will be given directly

We believe that feedback must not be sugar coated but given with honesty and good intentions. If you don’t give critical feedback to people, then you are doing them more harm. The goal of giving critical feedback is to help the person improve, not to put blame. But accepting critical feedback is emotionally hard, because we all think we are right. The problem is not that we are wrong, but we have not considered all the parameters. It hurts our ego when things get pointed out.

We believe that in our quest to achieve excellence, we must all be open to accept any kind of objective criticism and be open to learning from it. This is much harder in practice than in theory.

You have to read and write a lot

While these are basic skills taught in childhood, we are still surprised how difficult people find it to put their thoughts into words. Frappe is a remote-first company, that means most of the communication will be written. There is also copious amounts of information for everyone to read and process. Being good at understanding and expressing complex needs is critical to Frappe.

While we also love people who are great at communicating orally, being reasonably good at written communication will make your life much easier.

You will fail, a lot

We believe that showing someone “direction” is taking away their “free will”. So generally we will let you be yourself unless you ask for help or if you are unable to contribute. You can only discover yourself if you wander around. Since we offer more freedom than most workplaces, we also believe that the responsibility to ask for help is also your own.

You need to own your work area

Frappe doesnt have managers for any employee. Usually, it’s the managers who set targets, follow up with the subordinates, guide the employees, resolve conflicts and pick projects but at Frappe each team member has that responsibility shared with each other.

Projects are picked as per choice (while taking responsibility for what’s needed), team decisions are put to vote, conflicts are resolved through open discussions, accountability is ensured through team stand-ups and mentors help guide you with the right direction but you always have a say. You are only judged based on the outcome of your decisions over anything else.

While all this might sound very liberating, it is also a lot of additional work you have to do. If you are looking for a job where someone will just tell you what to do and hold your hand, or if you are someone who is used to just giving orders and have everyone follow blindly this isn’t the place for you.

If there is any part of the work that’s not ideal, you call out yourself (no matter how new you are) and get it fixed by having the team on board. You won’t have a boss to blame for bad decisions because you have agency to correct that so you are the one who is responsible.

(contributed by Abhishek Balam)

Your life will change forever

“The unexamined life is not worth living” ~ Socrates. Frappe will make you question your beliefs and thinking like no other experience, just because there are so little rules. This can be disorienting but ultimately rewarding. Once you experience the culture at Frappe, it is unlikely that you will be able to see things the same way again. You will get hurt a lot but also learn a lot, like every difficult journey in the end it’s going to be the one inside that matters.

If you are not ready to expect the unexpected, be ready to explore into the unknown, push yourself out of your comfort zone, you should probably not join Frappe!


Rushabh Mehta

Rushabh is a software developer and founder of ERPNext. He usually writes about the startup experience, open source and the technologies he is working on.

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Jalaj 3 weeks ago

Many organizations, even older/bigger ones) are like that, but they lack the honesty and dare to speak the brutal as-is. I appreciate you anyway for humbly building such open source beautiful products, but after this transparent as-is depiction of org culture I respect you for the dare required to let the world know. I things makes it more clear, who your right employee/partner are (in personality traits). At the same time it shows how agile the organization is! After reading this I would have asked you to let me in... But have a battle to fight in current organization as senior person.

Anyway, after this I read your other blogs on culture. I am going to apply many of your observations.

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Drashti 3 weeks ago

I have been working in this environment and I can relate. Such a kind of culture needs a very measurable vision so that everyone is on the same page. It also needs leaders who lead by example.

I appreciate the outlook. Not suitable for all levels though

Rushabh Mehta 3 weeks ago

@Raj, thanks for your feedback. :-)

We aren't sure if this is scalable or not, this is just an attempt to portray the situation as is

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Raj 3 weeks ago

I have been folllowing your posts for sometime - it's an interesting refreshing concept for sure.

Food for thought :

But is this a scalable model ?

Can a company with large goals continue like this ?

Direction and order is required in any form of Governance- Chaotic environment all the time leads to stress - how about it ?

Also it's such a new concept new comers many a times may get lost - beware

Critical feedback will be given is a very disappointing statement since we must also be able to take critical feedback's - it must always be the case - but in reality it's always top down as evidenced by this one statement !!

My view for Frappe - bring in some order and direction and have bigger aspirations have a balanced approach ..

Wishing Frappe and team the very best in this new endeavour !!