The Hybrid Innovation Approach to Technological Innovation
Companies need to carefully think about the timing and way to adopt technological disruptions. Adopting technological disruption too late can squander competitive advantages, but adopting it too early can be devastating as well. Rather than spell doom and gloom, it is important to embrace disruption by combining current with novel technology
According to Furr and Snow (2015), the "hybrid approach
" is an effective way to deal with technological disruption. In essence a hybrid strategy is intended to serve as "stepping stones to survive and prosper in the next generation." Hybrids combine different stages of disruption: mature, recent and emerging. For each stage a particular form of hybrid strategy exists and is defined by the type of market and customer needs:
- MATURE STAGE: In the mature phase of disruption, companies identify means to adapt. A bottleneck strategy is relevant when the business ecosystem is still not fully developed and complimentary goods are not readily available.
- RECENT STAGE: When disruption is already under way, companies must capture information regarding the technological breakthroughs and customer needs. A niche strategy is well suited to take advantage of particular customer needs that are not fulfilled.
- EMERGING STAGE: In the case of emerging disruption, companies can integrate concepts of prototypes into current technology to test the relevance and development of disruptive features. These may serve the purpose of improving existing products and services.
Besides the stage, following considerations can guide the appropriate choice for a hybrid innovation strategy:
Source: Nathan Furr, Daniel Snow, "The Prius Approach", November 2015, HBR.
- Pick a strategy that enables the company to position itself so as to maximize the impact of the hybrid innovation.
- Determine the company's capabilities. Figure what capability can be acquired and what can be developed within. Be mindful of how the capabilities can integrate within the existing business model and whether new investment is required.
- Plan investment in new activities needed to develop the hybrid innovation.
- Estimate the time-frame for the hybrid innovation. Consider whether it will be for a short period or in the long run. However, resist getting stuck with a particular solution as this can be costly in terms of resources and missed opportunities.