Matthew E. May

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Matthew E. May, author of just-published The Laws of Subtraction, discusses how less can sometimes be more.

The world is more overwhelming than ever before. Our work is deeper and more demanding than ever. Our businesses are more complicated and difficult to manage than ever. Our economy is more uncertain than ever. Our resources are scarcer than ever. There is endless choice and feature overkill in all but the best experiences. Everbody knows everything about us. The simple life is a thing of the past. Everywhere, there’s too much of the wrong stuff, and not enough of the right. The noise is deafening, the signal weak. Everything is too complicated and time-sucking.

Welcome to the age of excess everything. Success in this new age looks different, and demands a new skill: Subtraction.

Subtraction is defined simply as the art of removing anything excessive, confusing, wasteful, unnatural, hazardous, hard to use, or ugly . . . or the discipline to refrain from adding it in the first place. And if subtraction is the new skill to be acquired, we need a guide to developing it.

Enter The Laws of Subtraction.

Through a dozen of the most compelling stories of breakthrough innovation culled from 2,000 cases and bolstered by uniquely personal essays contributed by over 50 of the most creative minds in business today, including two of the partners of Gemba Academy, The Laws of Subtraction outlines six simple rules for winning in the age of excess everything, and delivers a single yet powerful idea:

When you remove just the right things in just the right way, something very good happens.


Matthew E. May

Matthew E. May has the best job in the world: part creativity coach, part innovation catalyst. Matt works with creative teams all over the world, helping them track down elegant solutions to complex problems. On matters of innovation and design strategy he is a close advisor to senior management of companies such as Toyota, ADP, Intuit, and

A popular speaker, Matt is active on the lecture circuit, and conducts workshops and seminars at a number of Fortune listed companies, here and abroad, including Microsoft, 3M, Mattel, Lockheed Martin, Qualcomm, ITT, Pfizer, Fidelity Investments, Reed Elsevier, McGraw-Hill, Razorfish/Avenue A, Computer Associates, Forrester Research, Red 7 Media, Stena Group, Fletcher Allen Healthcare, Lexis-Nexis, and the National Reconnaissance Office.

He is a columnist for the American Express OPEN Forum Idea Hub, and a regular contributor to University of Toronto's The Rotman Magazine. His articles have been published in frog design's Design Mind, MIT/Sloan Management Review, USAToday and The Wall Street Journal.

Matt's work has been featured or mentioned in The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Time, Forbes, INC magazine, Fast Company, Wharton Leadership Digest, CIO Insight, American Enterprise Institute, The Miami Herald, Tom Peters! and The Los Angeles Times. He has appeared on NPR, CNBC, and a host of online shows.

He won the Shingo Prize for Research, the 2009 BusinessWeek Best Books in Design and Innovation list, and The Axiom Award for Best Business Fable, but he considers winning the The New Yorker cartoon caption contest as one of his proudest and most creative achievements.

Matt received his training in design thinking from the Stanford d school. He holds an MBA in Marketing and Organization Design from The Wharton School, and a BA in Social and Behavioral Sciences from Johns Hopkins University.