For a product to succeed, it must get M.A.D.E.

If a product is going to succeed, it needs to be made.  That seems obvious, and it is.  However, I would argue that for a product to succeed in any social impact sense it also needs to be M.A.D.E.

What do I mean by that?  Simply put, if a product or services is going to help people significantly impact the problem it is meant to address it needs to have the four following attributes:

Meaningful:

The product fits into the lives of the people who will use it and helps them meet a need they currently have, in a significant way.

Example: I don’t have any lighting built into my home but I still need a way to light my living space after dark.  A solar-powered, portable lamp that could light my home would be meaningful – it has a utility I can easily understand and apply to my life.

Accessible:

People can afford, purchase, understand, maintain/repair, and use the product.

Example: If that lamp was priced so that I could afford it; if it was available in my local shop; if I could intuitively grasp how to both charge it and turn it on/off; if I could buy replacement bulbs when the originals burnt out; and, if I was able to consistently light my home, then the lamp would be accessible – I am able to get my hands on one and make use of it.

Desirable:

People want the product and are willing to go out of their way, and make sacrifices, to get one.

Example: I really like that lamp.  It’s size/shape/color/utility really appeal to me.   In my community it would certainly not be an embarrassment to own one and it might even be a status symbol.   That lamp is desirable – I want one.

Effective:

The product does what it was intended to do.

Example: My lamp works great.  It fills my home with light, recharges with the solar panel provided, lasts as long as I expected on a charge, and generally solves my lighting problem.  This product is effective – it helps me meet my needs and I am happy.

While this perspective might be a bit simplistic, it can still be immensely helpful when we are thinking about developing a product for social impact.  So keep this in mind: before you proceed too far down the path of introducing a product into the world, make certain it very clearly and positively meet these requirements – otherwise it will never get M.A.D.E.