Full-Time COO / Director of Organizational Excellence (Location Flexible)
Many of the best solutions to poverty and environmental issues, promoted by social impact organizations around the world, are not used as intended. In Malawi, Mosquito nets are used for fishing. In Nigeria, exclusive breastfeeding is practiced by only 23% of young mothers. In Guatemala, nutrition-fortified maize seeds are available, but farmers rarely plant them. The list goes on. These organizations often struggle to reach outcomes that require behavior changes within the communities they serve.
Appleseed, a nonprofit founded in 2015, provides social impact organizations with consulting and coaching around behavioral marketing. We demystify “behavior change,” by offering a systematic and culturally-sensitive process for driving adoption of solutions that improve lives and the environment.
We only serve organizations with the highest potential for making impact. Our nimble field team goes wherever our partners operate, and when we’re not joining them in the field, we are a fully remote organization.
Our current business model and partner engagements are only the initial steps, as we lay the groundwork for system change. We envision a day when all breakthrough solutions get the behavioral marketing needed to truly make impact.
For more information, please visit www.appleseedimpact.org
An Example of our Work
A health NGO in Kenya installed clean water tanks in 200 schools, but only 8% of children drank from them. Despite receiving training from community health workers, most kept drinking untreated water from the river or from handwashing tanks. Health workers were very frustrated.
School in Kenya, 2017
Appleseed first showed the health workers to ask the right questions. Research found that children disliked water made warm by the black tanks under the sun. Also, they had trouble telling drinking and handwashing tanks apart. Observation showed they avoided any tanks placed near teachers’ offices. So we applied behavioral nudges, such as painting tanks white (to reflect heat) and putting soap inside hand washing tanks (to discourage drinking). We also moved tanks closer to where students played (and further from where teachers congregated).
These changes, paired with a communication campaign using better signage and positive reinforcement, made drinking clean water a social norm. Within a year, we achieved 60% uptake, which reduced chronic diarrhea for nearly 27,000 additional children.
Our real success was in getting the NGO’s health workers to apply behavioral marketing throughout their programs: they now use it to successfully drive adoption of mosquito nets and nutrition supplements. By showing case studies like these to other social impact organizations, to funders, and to social impact accelerator programs, we foster more widespread use of behavioral marketing across the sector.
The Ideal Candidate
We are a small mission-driven startup, using lean experimentation to create a sustainable and impactful organization. Our culture is solid, our people are engaged, and our runway is healthy. Our business model is innovative and has traction. Our strategy is sound, our projects yield results, and our partners rave about our work… Yet we’re barely scratching the surface of what we could do. We’ve had success in spite of one glaring problem: our internal operations aren’t built to support our growth.
We’ve created various systems — for goal setting and alignment; experimenting with our business model; recruiting and onboarding; payroll and accounting; performance management and professional development; managing new business leads; tracking and engaging our donors; coaching/getting partners to use behavioral marketing; capturing and curating media content from the field; daily project management, and more. These systems have gotten us by, but each has cracks and inefficiencies, which add up.
As a result, we are wasting effort, missing opportunities, and often failing to drive the right organizational behaviors (within Appleseed and within partner organizations)! We have resources sitting unused, yet our workweeks seem busier than they should be. In short, we are not optimized to do our very best. This is not for lack of good intentions or effort. It is a person that our team has been missing… a person obsessed with operational excellence and has the chops to achieve it within a fully remote startup. This is where you come in.
- You are nuts about behavior change, user experience, and building better habits.
- You’ve designed, implemented, and refined frictionless business processes and tools.
- You are steadfast, disciplined, and organized; able to bring balance and order to teams in ways that foster creativity rather than stifling it.
- You are a multiplier manager that brings the best out of people.
- You are an excellent writer and communicator.
- You are a doer, a tinkerer, and a tactician who enjoys getting into the nitty gritty.
- You are an essentialist who practices “the disciplined pursuit of less but better.”
- You care about protecting and building an enduring organizational culture where all Appleseeders thrive, grow, and make real impact.
- You are the person to make us hum as a unit.
In many ways, you are sought precisely for how you complement Appleseed’s Executive Director (Philip), so that you can free each other up to do your best. This will be an ongoing conversation that takes shape as the working relationship develops. Some examples of how you might help each other play to strengths and manage weaknesses:
- You excel at prioritizing critical needs and putting resources to good use by skillfully managing deployment. This complements Philip, a resource-magnet who consistently attracts funding, business, skilled and passionate people, professional support services, mentorship, and partnership opportunities.
- You excel at finding what’s working and designing ways to make essential work replicable. This ensures long term sustainable impact. This complements Philip’s deep experience on behavioral marketing projects, where he uses intuition and methodology to manage diverse clients and run campaigns that make immediate impact.
- You excel at improving processes, tools, and management so that we can channel inspiration and energy to make vision a reality. This complements Philip, who articulates a compelling vision and is a leader who inspires and energizes others.
You’ve been seeking a role where you don’t have to choose between making a difference and making a living. You see a tremendous opportunity here, where by joining and growing up with Appleseed as early stage organization, you would unlock tremendous potential for making positive impact in the world.
Target remote start date: September 1, 2019; in-person attendance at team retreat in California for 3 days in early-October 2019
The Director of Organizational Excellence / COO is a mostly internal-facing role that reports to the Executive Director. Appleseed has six main areas of work: Partner Success, Communications, Business Development, Fundraising, People & Culture, and Internal Systems. By the end of a 6-month onboarding process, you will have lead of two areas: People & Culture and Internal Systems. Also, you will play a part on the Partner Success team. Through these roles, and by being a very early member of the organization, you will have insight into and influence on every part of Appleseed’s operations.
Internal Systems: you will be responsible for the efficiency of our operations (build routines that enshrine the essential, making execution almost effortless).
This entails organizing our people, processes, communication, and tools to streamline our systems across all areas. Systems include remote collaboration, accounting and payroll, business model experimentation, task management, file and digital media storage, donor and new business CRM, project monitoring and evaluation, and many more. This will require investigating current practices, designing modifications, implementing changes, and helping to maintain these systems.
People & Culture: you will lead our efforts to find, grow, and keep good people.
This includes improving and managing our recruiting and on-boarding; providing support, training, supervision, evaluation, and mentorship to enable the full utilization of our talented and mission-driven staff, volunteers, and Advisory Committee; establishing more intentional professional development for staff; expanding upon learning and culture efforts like our Book Club and biannual retreats; making sure people get paid on time; and more.
Partner Success: you will support efforts to make our work of changing behavior more replicable for future partners and staff.
To maximize impact, Appleseed’s partners must learn to change behavior effectively in communities. This requires changes our partners’ operations and mindset. To help achieve this, you are asked to observe our work with partners and codify parts of our methodology into a curriculum. This will reduce costs, improve the quality of our services, and ensure that partners can sustain behavioral marketing after engagements end.
Early startup member of Appleseed: you will steward and positively shape our culture, keep us focused on mission, and ensure that our core values are upheld always.
This entails vigilantly rooting out and fixing problems that hide and multiply; nurturing new ideas and responding well to failure when it happens; bringing your passion and initiative to work every day; seeing no work to be beneath you; being comfortable with a certain level of risk and constant change; and continuously advancing our understanding of human behavior and culture, poverty, inequality, and environmental issues around the world.
Must-have Skills & Qualifications
- Business Processes and Operations Expertise:
- Experienced with behavior change / design / systems implementation: design thinking, creative and analytical; strong gift for empathy and a user-first mindset; Able to conduct user testing, solve problems, iterate with feedback, and create elegant UX to help people meet goals.
- Leverages the power of technology: interested in how humans interact with tech; has experience implementing, integrating, and automating apps and platforms for cloud collaboration and productivity.
- Articulates thoughts to drive change: superb communication skills (written, verbal, and everything else); proficient in creating user stories, personas, sitemaps, wireframes, prototypes, storyboards; able to present / collaborate with stakeholders.
- Strong team management track record: has an established management style that brings results; Data-driven, keeps teams on time and on track using objectives and key results; Proven experience mentoring others, fostering professional and personal growth.
- Effective in a remote startup culture: is flexible, adaptable, self-driven, and accountable; Comfortable with ambiguity, variety, and complexity in a lean startup environment; willing and able to wear different hats in service of our mission. *Working hours must have minimum 4 hour time-zone overlap with 8a-6p Pacific Time workday
- Salaried position; Full-time or 30+ hours/week (negotiable)
- Flexible and unlimited time-off / vacation policy (self-managed)
- 90% remote work from any location
- 10% travel to team retreats 2x/year, annual conferences, and project sites occasionally