How to Thrive in a World Where Everything Can Be Copied


By Howard Yu

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Every business faces the existential threat of competitors producing cheaper copies. Even patent filings, market dominance and financial resources can’t shield them from copycats. So what can we do — and, what can we learn from companies that have endured and even prospered for centuries despite copycat competition?

In a book of narrative history and practical strategy, IMD professor of management and innovation Howard Yu shows that succeeding in today’s marketplace is no longer just a matter of mastering copycat tactics, companies also need to leap across knowledge disciplines, and to reimagine how a product is made or a service is delivered. This proven tactic can protect a company from being overtaken by new (and often foreign) copycat competitors.

Using riveting case studies of successful leaps and tragic falls, Yu illustrates five principles to success that span a wide range of industries, countries, and eras. Learn about how P&G in the 19th century made the leap from handcrafted soaps and candles to mass production of its signature brand Ivory, leaped into the new fields of consumer psychology and advertising, then leaped again, at the risk of cannibalizing its core product, into synthetic detergents and won with Tide in 1946. Learn about how Novartis and other pharma pioneers stayed ahead by making leaps from chemistry to microbiology to genomics in drug discovery; and how forward-thinking companies, including China’s largest social media app — WeChat, Tokyo-based Internet service provider Recruit Holdings, and Illinois-headquartered John Deere are leaping ahead by leveraging the emergence of ubiquitous connectivity, the inexorable rise of intelligent machines, and the rising importance of managerial creativity.

Outlasting competition is difficult; doing so over decades or a century is nearly impossible — unless one leaps. Ultimately, Leap is a manifesto for how pioneering companies can endure and prosper in a world of constant change and inevitable copycats.




The opening up of new markets, foreign or domestic… illustrates the same process of industrial mutation that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one. This process of Creative Destruction is the essential fact about capitalism.


OUTLASTING COMPETITION IS DIFFICULT. DOING SO OVER decades or a century often seems impossible. Since the great Industrial Revolution, every country that has become rich started by copying others: the French copied the British, the Americans copied the Germans, and the Japanese pretty much copied everybody else.

In the midst of this competition, countless players fell. Yet some pioneering companies have managed to endure and even prosper over the course of centuries. How is that possible?


Greenville, South Carolina, 1872

Henry P. Hammett—who was the mayor of Greenville, South Carolina, a century and a half ago—was a happy man. He was also a man of considerable size. He rode in a buggy specially made to hold his magnificent plumpness. Bald-headed and clean-shaven with heavy jowls and pasty skin, Hammett was no stranger to the Carolina elite. Addressing a gathering at the City Club, the Greenville native pronounced the arrival of the Richmond and Danville Railroad.1 “The section of [the Piedmont] along its entire line possesses all the natural advantages of all the elements necessary to make a county rich, prosperous, and great,” bellowed Hammett at the audience. “The traveler passing through it cannot fail to be impressed with its beauty and advantages, and the capitalist must see that it is one of the very best fields for investment.”2 To the mayor, the newly launched railroad was the Piedmont’s best chance at reforming its economic outlook. It offered an opportunity to shed the Piedmont’s former reputation as a poor white enclave burdened by indebted farmers and mountain dwellers—remote, aloof, and primitive.

During the golden age of American railroading between the late 1870s and 1890, some 73,000 new miles of track were built. That translated into about 7,000 miles a year. Much of that went into the Deep South and western areas.3 The vision of a national rail network that traversed the Piedmont, linking it to Charlotte and Atlanta, extending up to New York and down to New Orleans, and cutting through the shortest possible route in a straight line was so arresting that the Piedmont railroad advertised itself as an “Air-Line”—a term that predated commercial aviation.4 It was also a vision so compelling that Mayor Hammett took up his own advice given at the business gathering and set up the Piedmont Manufacturing Company (PMC), taking advantage of the newfound connectivity. On March 15, 1876, PMC began exporting cotton sheeting rolled onto cylinders with diameters of up to 36 inches, using the most modern textile machinery available for manufacturing, to a fast-growing market overseas: China.

The project was a huge success. By 1883, after acquiring some $80,000 worth of machinery, PMC had become the largest textile producer in South Carolina, with 25,796 spindles and 554 looms. Five years later, Hammett opened a second factory, Piedmont Number Two. Then he opened a third, Piedmont Number Three, the following year.

The Chinese loved the cheap, coarse, durable cloth. Consumers started to sidestep the more expensive British imports, and the Piedmont’s low wages and large factories became known worldwide. It turned out the demand for textile goods, like that of many other commodities—coal, petroleum, iron, and steel—was highly elastic. Consumers bought more cloth if the price was lower; they stopped buying in the face of a price increase. A traveler wandering through China reported, “There was not a hole in the East in which I did not find a Piedmont brand.”5

Despite this breakneck expansion, others quickly came to dwarf PMC. Bigger names—Holt, Cannon, Gray, Springs, Love, Duke, Hanes—swept through the region as the international market took off. Collectively, they ended the tight grip British manufacturers had over the Asian market since the Industrial Revolution. And by the 1930s, southern spindles accounted for 75 percent of the US total. Local news routinely attributed the stunning success to the salesmanship and ingenuity of the hardworking southerners, who had pretty much put everyone else out of business.

Then the one-dollar blouse from Japan arrived.6

Shortly after World War II, it was the Japanese who acquired the same knack for ingenuity and low wages. These hardworking foreigners produced textiles even more cheaply than the Piedmontese. But over the course of the following decade, apparel production in Japan would also slip to even cheaper labor in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South Korea. And when the wages rose in those places, the textile plants moved farther out to China, India, and Bangladesh in an epic race to the bottom. Textile workers in China and Indonesia in 2000 were paid less than $1 an hour; in the United States, workers earned around $14.

By the end of the twentieth century, large, populous US mill towns had all but dwindled to mere shadows of their former selves. Industrial buildings were boarded up and abandoned, painfully repurposed, or reopened as museums. In October 1983, a fire destroyed much of Piedmont Number One—which had been designated a National Historic Landmark in recognition of the company’s importance to the South’s textile industry. No one was hurt. Weeds had long sprouted through the cracks of the company parking lots. There wasn’t anyone around. Piedmont Number One had, in fact, stopped manufacturing textile in 1977. The remaining ruins were dismantled and quietly hauled away and the name was removed from the National Register of Historic Places.7 Today, the Greenville Textile Heritage Society continues to record the living memories of its aging inhabitants, using a method that some historians would readily agree with: oral history.8

One might therefore conclude that textile manufacturing is just exceptionally transient, and no one can prosper for long. Yet it’s not the only one. Take the personal computer, for instance.

Consider for a moment the engineering marvel of the hard disk drive (HDD). With conventional tape storage, if a user needed to access data located at the end, the drive had to read through the entire tape before it could look up the relevant information. HDD sped things up by storing and retrieving blocks of data, not sequentially as was the case with cassette tapes, but in a random-access manner. To do so, a hard drive made up of rotating disks spins some seven thousand times per minute while magnetic heads arranged on moving arms read and write data onto the disks. The technological feat is equivalent to a pilot flying a fighter jet at over 600 miles per hour at an altitude of around 3,000 meters (about 9,850 feet) and dropping tennis balls into buckets six hundred times without making a single mistake. This was the kind of engineering marvel that only IBM’s San Jose laboratories could ordain in the 1950s. Launched in 1956, the first workable model drew much inspiration from Thomas Edison’s early phonograph cylinders.9 Since then, HDD technology has substantially improved—the physical size of the hard drive has been shrunk while the storage capacity has multiplied. But the center of innovation slipped elsewhere. Today, competitors sprawl across the globe. Toshiba in Japan, followed by several Taiwanese companies, has come to aggressively compete in the sector with brutally efficient manufacturing processes. So fierce has been the pricing pressure that the industry has been driven to a zero-profit-margin subsistence.

The renewable energy sector is another example. Wind turbines, the business of which General Electric (GE), Siemens, and Vestas pioneered, were once almost entirely made by Western companies. In less than two decades, Chinese manufacturers, such as Goldwind and Sinovel, have become major suppliers in the global market, grabbing much market share from the earlier players. Then there is solar panel manufacturing, which offers yet another example, with China’s Yingli achieving the leading position as the world’s largest manufacturer in 2013. In fact, seven of the top ten panel makers—all latecomers to the sector—are now based in China.

From textiles to computer storage to renewable energy, one question applies: Is the displacement of early pioneering companies an inescapable fate in the modern economy? Or is it possible to prevent being buried by the competition?


Basel, Switzerland, 2014

A five-minute drive away from downtown Basel, in northwestern Switzerland, is a sprawling web of integrated office complexes. They constitute the global headquarters of the world’s third-largest pharmaceutical firm, Novartis. Fanning out from the main courtyard, each building features elements associated with the contemporary architecture: stainless-steel structures with floor-to-ceiling glass walls; minimalist gravel gardens occasionally met with larger-than-life, ultramodern sculptures. If not for the hordes of black-suited managers and white-coated technicians, this place could be mistaken for a museum of modern art.

British architect Sir David Alan Chipperfield designed one of the buildings, the Fabrikstrasse 22. Its open spatial structure is aesthetically striking, as noticeable as the interdisciplinary collaboration demanded of the scientists working inside. Inside these buildings, biology, chemistry, computational science, and medicine all come together; experts run cellular experiments and data-heavy analyses to uncover the main culprits behind cancers. Such efforts are part of a larger endeavor to treat the untreatable. And the sleek, modern headquarters reflect the level of prosperity Novartis has come to enjoy.

Although the buildings are new, its location is not. The company’s two predecessors, CIBA-Geigy and Sandoz, which merged to form Novartis in 1996, had long settled along the banks of the mighty Rhine and their histories ran deep in Basel. CIBA had begun producing its first fever-reducing drug—antipyrine—in 1887. In 1895, the competing firm, Sandoz, manufactured and marketed synthetic saccharine and plant-based codeine. Roche, another Swiss rival established in 1896, expanded abroad: first to Milan in 1897, then to Paris in 1903, and to New York in 1905. More than a century later, in early 2014, the combined market capitalization of the two giants, Novartis and Roche, was still on the upswing, exceeding $400 billion. Novartis alone in 2014 spent $9.9 billion on research and development, a staggering sum that Roche closely matched.10

Unlike other industrial-heartland-turned-rust-belt cities, Basel’s standard of living remains one of the highest in Western Europe. Across the Rhine is an eclectic collection of city center buildings: impeccable old town houses surrounded by narrow stone streets, exemplary industrial structures, and contemporary residential estates—all vastly different in style, but coexisting in perfect harmony. Unlike the Piedmont’s short-lived fortunes, Basel’s bounty seems limitless.

So, why were the economic prospects of the textile companies so brutally transient while those along the Rhine are so graciously stable? When they face the onslaught of new competition, what causes some pioneers to escape relatively unscathed while latecomers sweep others away?


When they come face-to-face with a puzzle, academics read, observe, interview, debate, and write about it. This book is the direct result of research efforts that began when I joined the IMD business school in Switzerland as a full-time faculty member back in 2011. The executive education programs have served as my primary laboratory, allowing me to explore the core idea regarding how businesses thrive in a world where everything can be copied. The program participants, many of them seasoned international business leaders from different industries, have been my intellectual guides, taking me through their firsthand accounts about the rise and fall of even lesser-known companies. From this vantage point, I have enjoyed a view of the collective experience and the privilege of arriving at an overall synthesis.

Still, my fascination—or perhaps, obsession—with industry dynamics and the constant displacement of early pioneers goes back much further to a time before I thought of joining academia. Born and raised in Hong Kong, I watched the inevitable migration of knowledge and capital. I remember my elementary school teachers describing the economy of Hong Kong as an “entrepôt,” a term the British applied to my city when it served as the only window between China and the rest of the world. Virtually all merchandise and goods—cheese, chocolate, automobiles, raw cotton, and rice—had to pass through Hong Kong on their way in and out of China.

With its low labor costs, Hong Kong rose as a major manufacturing hub for labor-intensive industries. The once-sleepy fishing village became “the Pearl of the East,” a shining example of economic development. By 1972, Hong Kong had replaced Japan as the world’s largest toy exporter, with garment and apparel manufacturing forming the backbone of our economy. Li Ka-shing, one of the richest men in Asia with an estimated net worth of $30 billion, started out as a factory man, a supplier of hand-knit plastic flowers, before he moved into property development, container port operation, mass transportation, retailing, telecommunications, and much else.

But in the early 1980s, Hong Kong’s manufacturing cluster imploded. Factories moved to mainland China and, with them, manufacturing jobs. They first moved across the border to Shenzhen, then to Guangdong Province, and then to the rest of China. Unemployment in Hong Kong soared, crushing the optimism that had characterized residents for so many years. In the year of my graduation from college, my classmates were speaking of the need to acquire new skills to remain self-sufficient. That was before we had landed our first jobs. To survive, we told ourselves, we had to reinvent.

And Hong Kong did just that. It cast aside its former manufacturing and colonial identity and reinvented itself as a financial and logistics hub for the region. That reinvention of Hong Kong was where I grew up. It happened at the time when policy makers throughout the world were singularly praising outsourcing as “efficient.” It all happened before any free-market economist became alarmed that emerging market firms might one day catch up with established ones in the West. It was an era of unbridled trust in globalization. But for us Hong Kongers, including myself, it was the age of distrust. Everyone I spoke to yearned for stability and continuity. I wanted to find out how to achieve just that.


Why is it that knowledge and expertise mercilessly fled across the border from the Piedmont and Hong Kong, while Switzerland’s homegrown industries continue to remain solid, intact, and prosperous?

When I pose this question to senior executives, they often look quizzically at me, then flatly state, “Pharmaceuticals are more high-tech than textiles and toys,” or “Big Pharma owns a lot of patents,” or some variants of such answers. The reasoning is based on the observation that complex drug discovery and commercialization have so far protected the Swiss giants, whereas the absence of a requirement for special skills and knowledge in garment and toy manufacturing offers no protection to anyone in the sector.

This explanation sounds compelling, even self-evident. But it fails to account for the fact that numerous industries with mind-boggling technologies have also failed to resist competitive encroachment, and lower-cost competitors have displaced them over time. If complex knowledge and technology were the deciding factor in deterring competition, economists would have been able to show a survival chart plotting the typical life span of a company against the industry’s technological complexity. The more complex the technology in a sector, the longer the average life span of a typical incumbent. This would make a simple, elegant, and noteworthy model worth hammering into the minds of business school students all around the world.

Alas, no such graph can be plotted. Foreign rivals arriving late on the scene have outcompeted the established pioneers behind products as diverse as hard disks, automobiles, wind turbines, and mobile phones. Suddenly, even the term high-tech seems to require additional explaining. Weren’t the textile manufacturers in the Piedmont once cutting edge, too? All these counterarguments prove that the high-tech explanation is insufficient to account for the disparity between the fates of those from the Piedmont and the fates of those from Basel.

A second common explanation for the disparity concerns the nature of knowledge itself. Some executives rightly point out that pharmaceutical discovery remains highly uncertain and risky. This is evident from Novartis’s astronomical research and development costs, which it incurs with no guarantee that a drug will succeed in clinical trials and eventually make it to the marketplace. Today, commercializing a single new drug can average some $2.6 billion, with the amount projected to double every five years. By comparison, the innovation efforts in such sectors as textiles, electronics, wind turbines, and solar panels are far less costly and more predictable. From this perspective, as long as a company operates within a sector in which product development remains highly uncertain, the window of opportunity remains closed to latecomers looking to threaten existing incumbents. Rich experience, deep knowledge, and subject expertise are needed to tackle complex problems inherently unpredictable; the barriers to entry are simply too high for inexperienced latecomers to overcome. Or so the explanation goes.

While it may sometimes be true, history is replete with examples of latecomers who successfully eliminated uncertainties previously thought insurmountable. Consider automobile production. For a long while, quality variance was accepted as a fact of life. Managers at Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler believed that no amount of engineering ingenuity could overcome fundamental human error. So, when Toyota and Honda started to introduce lean manufacturing and just-in-time inventory management, Western experts and consultants and academics were taken completely by surprise. They failed to imagine how a host of quality-control toolkits could bring a formerly unruly chaotic industry swiftly into order and discipline. Before long, Tokyo relegated the former automotive capital—Detroit—to its current rust-belt status.

So, foreign latecomers can indeed succeed in industries in which product innovation and manufacturing were previously considered inherently unpredictable, and we’ll see yet another example in the next chapter. But why hasn’t this scenario played out in the pharmaceutical industry or, at least, to as great an extent as it has in other industries? Yes, patents and regulations may bar copycats from selling the exact same formulations. But nothing forbids a latecomer from learning how to discover drugs in the first place and to develop that capability. Why hasn’t anyone done so? Conversely, what can pioneering companies do to successfully prevent displacement and stagnation?


“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme,” goes the saying. The expression captures the spirit in which this book was written. Throughout this book, I will compare the industry histories and the actions that different companies have undertaken. Contrasting their diverging outcomes, I will distill five fundamental principles at work. These principles both explain and predict how companies can prosper when labor, information, and money move easily, cheaply, and almost instantaneously.

In the simplest terms, the search for unique positioning that guarantees sustainable advantages is illusory. Intellectual property, market positioning, brand recognition, manufacturing scale, and even distribution networks can never withstand competition for long. No value proposition, no matter how unique, remains unchallenged. Good designs and great ideas get copied regardless of patent laws and trade secrets. The only way to prosper under such conditions over long periods is to leap: Pioneers must move across knowledge disciplines, to leverage or create new knowledge on how a product is made or service is delivered. Absent such efforts, latecomers will always catch up.

Why, then, don’t pioneering companies leap more often? Complicating this matter often is the fact that executives are under tremendous pressure to meet the ongoing demands of their current businesses. What is good in the long run hurts in the near term. To be ready to leap would therefore require a different way of thinking about and leading the business.

Principle 1: Understand your firm’s foundational knowledge and its trajectory.

We first look at the question of why incumbents find it so difficult to preempt new competition. Even in the absence of any technological disruption or shift in consumer preferences, latecomers often mount formidable challenges against early pioneers. We look at how Yamaha’s music business crippled Steinway & Sons as part of this investigation. There had been no fundamental change in piano making, but Steinway was almost destined to struggle. This counterintuitive and disturbing observation exposes why and how copycats can often encroach on and then overtake industry pioneers. To avert this dangerous trajectory would require executives to, first and foremost, reassess a firm’s foundational or core knowledge and its maturity. Circumventing the danger must begin by knowing where we are.

Principle 2: Acquire and cultivate new knowledge disciplines.

What we will learn from the history of modern medicine is that knowledge uncovered in one area often leads to new discoveries elsewhere. And it is this ongoing discovery process that ultimately opens new paths for growth. In this light, competitive advantage depends most critically on the assimilation of new knowledge and the timely creation of new markets and new businesses. Only by forging ahead, rather than refining what has already been, can a pioneer avoid being caught by copycats. Such is how the once little-known Basel-based pharmaceutical firms have managed to stay ahead for nearly a century and a half.

The role of managerial choices cannot be overstated here. Granted, some firms are born lucky in their industries: new discoveries by the scientific community render the matter of where to leap a no-brainer. Other sectors are less lucky; there may be no obvious answer. Still, time and time again, I have come across companies whose prospects should have been doomed, yet they consistently came out in the lead. For instance, Procter & Gamble has maintained its leading position in household consumer goods by leaping toward new knowledge disciplines. We shall explore this in greater detail.

Principle 3: Leverage seismic shifts.

If history is a tool that enables us to understand the past—helping us establish the concept of leaping into new knowledge disciplines—we must project our understanding of history into the future. Where should we look for opportunities to leap?

Although important variances exist between industries, certain seismic shifts to the global economy will be felt by everyone regardless of who you are and where you live. Like the invention of the steam engine in the eighteenth century or the harnessing of electricity in the nineteenth century, two intertwining forces will propel all companies into the second half of the twenty-first century: the inexorable rise of intelligent machines and the emergence of ubiquitous connectivity.

All winners must leverage the seismic shifts around them and leap accordingly. So, whether one is a technology creator, traditional manufacturer, startup entrepreneur, or nonprofit organization, we must identify those forces that matter the most in the coming decades and reconfigure our competencies ahead of others.

Principle 4: Experiment to gain evidence.

The aforementioned principles notwithstanding, concrete choices must be made. A bold decision always looks good—until it is proved wrong. To borrow Donald Rumsfeld’s phrase of “unknown unknowns,” executives may not even be aware that they don’t possess a critical piece of information. To facilitate evidence-based decision making, managers must carry out frequent experimentation to reduce the dark space of ignorance and to arrive at conclusions with the required level of familiarity.

Here is another way of looking at it. The biggest risk that threatens the survival of a large and complex organization lies in political infighting and collective inaction. Arguments that play out in the boardroom may resemble empty rhetoric and amount to nothing more than personal beliefs. Experimentation is the window of truth to let light in from outside. We will therefore look at how critical assumptions can be identified and then proved right through rigorous experiments.

Principle 5: Dive deep into execution.

Awareness is not the same as commitment, so insights alone never suffice. Because strategy and execution are inextricably linked, unless ideas are translated into everyday actions and operational tactics, a pioneer is still at risk of being displaced by copycats. Thinking doesn’t equate to doing.

The fundamental advantage of well-weathered pioneers is their prior knowledge; when it is combined with a new knowledge discipline, they can alter the existing trajectory of product development. What makes it so hard for pioneering companies to leap, however, is that game-changing ideas can easily be filtered out as business proposals move up the corporate ladder. That’s why committed executives at the very top must be ready to intervene and implement a new directive when necessary. I call the instances in which top executives personally intervene at critical junctures, wielding the power to overcome specific barriers, the CEO “deep dive.” Deep dives are different from micromanagement because they rely on knowledge power rather than position power. This last principle removes the final hurdles that may stand in the way of an established company’s efforts to reconfigure and rewire itself.

Now that you’ve got this roadmap in hand, we’ll begin by investigating precisely why some pioneers thrive while others die. These stories will inform our guiding principles for responding to an ever-changing, often confusing world.






  • A Strategy + Business Best Business Book of 2018
    A Financial Times Best Business Book of the Month
    An Inc. Top 10 Best Business Book of 2018
    An 800 CEO READ Business Book to Watch in June 2018
    Winner of a 2019 Axiom Business Book Award in the Business Intelligence/Innovation category
  • "Yu's research exemplifies how management theory is rigorously built and improved. He carefully documents how companies in the past have spotted and seized opportunities for growth. I find the case studies compelling and the principles intriguing for all business leaders."
    Clayton Christensen, Kim B Clark Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School
  • "Leap shows you how to go about deliberately thinking about adapting your business, and investigates the technological forces at work. Every leader can benefit from the wisdom found in this book."—Jorgen vig Knudstrop, executive chairman, LEGO Brand Group
  • "Howard Yu argues that, even in a future age of machine intelligence, the human ability to innovate will be the primary factor enabling companies to thrive. His advice will be invaluable to managers and CEOs worldwide."—V.G. Govindarajan, Coxe Distinguished Professor of Management, Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth University, and author of the New York Times bestseller Reverse Innovation
  • "At a time when big business is challenged by start-ups, when 100-year-old business models have run out of steam, and when your next competitor can come from a totally unrelated industry, Howard Yu offers important guidance on how to reinvent corporations and the need for top leaders to show compassion, pride, solidarity, and vulnerability as organizations embark on the process. The marriage of big data and humanity can fundamentally change business. I can't recommend this book highly enough."—Poul Weihrauch, global president Petcare, Mars Inc.
  • "As technology's tectonic shifts reshape how companies win, Howard Yu shows the criticality of good management today. In Leap, he's written a valuable guide to help managers prepare their companies for long and successful lives."—Keith Ferrazzi, chairman, Ferrazzi Greenlight and author of New York Times bestsellers Never Eat Alone and Who's Got Your Back
  • "A deeply thoughtful journey on why human curiosity and creativity matter more, not less, than ever in the new brave world of ubiquitous connectivity and smart machines. And why and how we as leaders need to learn to leap - and not just incrementally extrapolate what we already know."—Jouko Karvinen, Chairman of Finnair
  • "In a world driven by global competition and constant change, businesses increasingly struggle to achieve long-term success. This book is a unique source of strategic ideas that will enable complex organizations to reinvent themselves and drive sustainable growth."—Urs Rohner, Chairman, Credit Suisse Group
  • "A truly remarkable book that addresses the fundamental challenge facing managers who seek to sustain growth. Powerful case examples illustrate important concepts drawn from science and sociology as well as business."—Joseph L. Bower, Donald Kirk David Professor, emeritus, Harvard Business School

On Sale
Jun 12, 2018
Page Count
288 pages

Howard Yu

About the Author

Howard Yu is the LEGO professor of management and innovation at IMD business school in Switzerland, and director of the Advanced Management Program (AMP), a three-week executive course. Yu was selected by Poets&Quants in 2015 as one of “The World’s Top 40 Business Professors Under 40,” and in 2018, he appeared on the Thinkers50 Radar list of thirty management thinkers “most likely to shape the future of how organizations are managed and led.” Yu received his doctoral degree from Harvard Business School.

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