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 his new book LeapIMD professor of management and innovation Howard Yu shows that succeeding in today’s marketplace is no longer just a matter of mastering the old (copycat tactics); companies also need to continue the discovery process, harnessing new strategies and advancements in technology while leveraging shifts in the marketplace (leap strategy). Leap identifies five fundamental principles that allow companies to make a leap and stay successful in the face of such competition.

The main takeaways from Leap, are:

  • How P&G made the leap from handcrafted soaps and candles to mass production of its signature brand Ivory, then 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.
  • How Novartis and other pharma pioneers keep making money by making leaps in drug breakthroughs from chemistry to microbiology to genomics.
  • How a New York-based NGO Community Solutions made a leap to tackle homelessness by combining human empathy with data analytics.
  • How forward-thinking companies from China’s largest social media app—WeChat, to Tokyo-based Internet service provider Recruit Holdings, to 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 copycat competition like these companies did is difficult; doing so over decades or a century is nearly impossible—unless you leap. Filled with riveting case studies of successful leaps and tragic falls—Steinway pianos, Southern textile mills, and Detroit-based carmakers are among the failing—Leap is a manifesto for how pioneering companies can endure and prosper in a world of constant change and inevitable copycats.

The Financial Times featured LEAP as a June Business Book of the Month. The book is now available to purchase via this official website.


Howard Yu is LEGO professor of management and innovation at IMD Business School in Switzerland, and director of IMD’s signature Advanced Management Program (AMP). He delivers customized training programs for major global companies, including Mars, Maersk, Electrolux, Daimler, Nestlé, Sanofi, Novartis, and LEGO.