Howard Yu

LEGO® Professor of Management and Innovation

Howard Yu is LEGO® Professor of Management and Innovation and heads IMD’s Center for Future Readiness. He specializes in technological innovation, strategic transformation, and change management. Author of the award-winning best-seller LEAP: How to Thrive in a World Where Everything Can Be Copied, he was named by Poets&Quants as one of the world’s leading business school professors under 40 in 2015, and in 2018 he was included on the Thinkers50 Radar list of management thinkers to watch in the year ahead.

His work as Director of the IMD Center for Future Readiness focuses on firms’ capacity to sustain new growth. The Center, which was established in 2020 with the backing of a multi-million-dollar grant from the LEGO Brand Group, aims to help companies spur innovation and thrive amid uncertainty by quantifying which organizations are most ready for a changing future and exploring the lessons that other firms can learn from them. The Center produces Future Readiness Indicators for various sectors to measure how prepared industry incumbents are for coming challenges.

I help executives to filter out the noise. They can then lay bare what impacts their companies. Leaders must take action to make their organizations future-ready.

Yu’s work has been published in journals such as Harvard Business Review, MIT Sloan Management Review, The European Business Review, and Business History Review, and popular media outlets including the New York Times, Financial Times, Fortune, Forbes, Straits Times, South China Morning Post, and Shanghai Daily. He is also regularly interviewed and quoted by news organizations such as the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Reuters, Bloomberg, CNBC, the BBC, and China Daily.

He says businesses are experiencing a series of seismic shifts as a result of global developments such as the encroachment of emerging market firms, the onslaught of digital transformation, growth in the number of affluent consumers across the world, the COVID-19 crisis, and the expansion of e-commerce, and managers must align with the trends affecting their sectors to prosper. For carmakers, for instance, the most significant trend is the leap from the mechanical engineering of the internal combustion engine to electric vehicles that blend connectivity with self-driving capabilities based on software algorithms.

At IMD, he is Co-Director of the Strategy for Future Readiness open program. He has also delivered customized training programs for major global companies in Asia and Europe including Bosch, OCBC Bank, COFCO, Mars, ASML, Sanofi, ABB, Novartis, Assa Abloy, Maersk, Daimler, Electrolux, Nitto, and LEGO.

Yu’s book LEAP shows how pioneering companies can endure and prosper in a world of constant change and inevitable copycats by harnessing new strategies and advancements in technology and leveraging shifts in markets. The book won widespread praise from top executives as well as several awards, including an Axiom Business Book Awards Gold Medal and a strategy+business Best Business Book award.

He has also written numerous case studies and won several case writing awards from the European Foundation for Management Development and The Case Centre.

He joined IMD in 2011 after completing a doctoral degree in management at Harvard Business School. He is a Hong Kong native and worked in the Hong Kong banking industry at the start of his career.

Selected publications
Conference Paper
Leopards sometimes change their spots: How firms manage a shift between strategic archetypes

This article describes a comparative field study of Taiwan’s PC industry. Tracing the strategic evolution of six leading firms, I found their transformations followed different paths because of the...

Strategy Technology Management Organizational Transformation
29 December 2010
Academic publications
Insight for Executives
Why diversity in clinical trials leads to better medicines

No one likes to be called a racist or a misogynist. Even the most hardened extremists would deny it. It is not that they oppose hiring women or minorities, they will say, but policies such as gende...

Sustainability Diversity and Equity and Inclusion
15 August 2022