Strategy& senior partner picks Yu's Leap as business book of the year

07 December 2018 3 min. read
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With Christmas approaching, so too that annual conundrum: what do you get the management consultant who has everything, except time to waste?

As media agencies across the globe reveal their ‘Best books for 2018’ lists in the countdown to the New Year, providing filler for both Christmas stockings and the slow news days of December, we should all spare a thought for the poor, overworked strategy and management consultants among us who have limited time for leisure reading and perhaps little interest in frivolous fiction in the first place.

Thankfully, Strategy& UK senior partner David Lancefield is here to help, with his recommendations for this year’s best strategy releases on the annual Best Business Books list from PwC publication strategy+business – headed by ‘Leap: How to Thrive in a World Where Everything Can Be Copied’, written by Hong Kong-born management professor and Harvard Business School doctoral graduate Howard Yu. 

Currently serving as the LEGO Professor of Strategic Management and Innovation at Switzerland’s prestigious International Institute for Management Development (IMD), which includes former McKinsey Americas Chairman and recently appointed Cognizant Chairman Michael Patsalos-Fox among its high-ranking alumni, Yu has been previously recognised as one of ‘The World’s Top 40 Business Professors Under 40’ by MBA-media outfit Poets&Quants.How to Thrive in a World Where Everything Can Be CopiedIn ‘Leap; How to Thrive in a World Where Everything Can Be Copied’, Yu, against a historical backdrop of business failures and success, makes a case for the pursuit of bold innovation, identifying five fundamental principles which have allowed pioneering companies to outpace a market under constant threat from business imitation by “harnessing new strategies and advancements in technology while leveraging shifts in the marketplace.”

With Yu recently named among 30 worldwide management thought leaders on the Thinkers50 Radar list, which identifies ‘emerging thinkers with the potential to make lasting contributions to management theory and practice’, David Lancefield in his review traces a line of thought back to renowned innovation writer Clayton Christensen – the founder of management consulting firm Innosight and Asia-focused Innosight Ventures – a supervisor of Yu’s at Harvard.

Within a broader overall account, Lancefield lists the ‘five clear and pragmatic' principles of Yu’s leap philosophy – understand your firm’s foundational knowledge and its trajectory, acquire and cultivate new knowledge disciplines, leverage seismic shifts, experiment to gain evidence, and dive deep into execution – noting that while it may sound simple, "making leaps successfully isn’t easy – they’re costly, from both a financial perspective and an emotional one. CEOs have to be willing to stake their personal and professional future on what may seem to be long-shot bets.”

Lancefield praises Yu as a fluent and imaginative storyteller – “He has a knack for the pithy phrase: ‘Strategy…is never about achieving perfection; it’s about shortening one’s odds, at best’ and ‘Core competencies turned into core rigidities’ – adding in summary; "The substantive, detailed accounts he offers really hit home. That may be in part because the products he describes — pianos, cotton, soap — play an active role in family life. But it’s also because Yu makes an eloquent plea for the primacy of human judgment and influence.”