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Monday, November 5, 2012

A Ted talk about the Laws of Subtraction by the Author Matthew E. May

We live in an age of excess everything--an era of overwhelming choice, crippling complexity, and feature overload. Standing out in the age of excess everything demands a singular skill: Subtraction.

The world's most original innovators all know this: less is best. They know that by removing just the right things in just the right way, they can achieve the maximum effect through minimum means and deliver what everyone wants: a memorable and meaningful experience. Subtraction is the scalpel of value—the method by which the simplest, most elegant solutions will be created, now and in the future. Subtraction is the creative skill needed to win in the age of excess everything.

A TedTalk by Matthew E May the author of The Laws of Subtraction explores this concept.  This talk delivers six simple rules for developing and deploying it:

1. What isn't there can often trump what is. (Examples: FedEx logo, Scion xB car)
2. The simplest rules create the most effective experience. (Example: urban redesign of London's Exhibition Road; Netflix vacation policy)
3. Limiting information engages the imagination. (Examples: original iPhone marketing strategy)
4. Creativity thrives under intelligent constraints. (Example: Mars Pathfinder project; Lexus LS400)
5. Break is the important part of breakthrough. (Example: Lockheed's Skunk Works)
6. Doing something isn't always better than doing nothing. (Example: Boston Consulting's mandatory downtime)

Matthew E. May is the author of the new book THE LAWS OF SUBTRACTION: as well as three previous award-winning books: The Elegant Solution, In Pursuit of Elegance, and The Shibumi Strategy. A popular speaker, creativity coach, and a close advisor on innovation to companies such as ADP, Edmunds, Intuit and Toyota, he is a regular contributor to the American Express OPEN Forum Idea Hub and the founder of Edit Innovation, an ideas agency based in Los Angeles. Matthew spoke at the London 2010 Ted Salon in hosted by frog design.

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1 comment:

  1. Way back in 1993 I had a phenomenal high school English teacher who did a lesson on making things shorter and simpler as a way of making them better. He'd have us write a paragraph, and then make it say just as much with one less sentence, or write a sentence and then make it clearer while simultaneously using three fewer words. I remember being surprised at how much better my writing became when I was forced to strategically shorten it.

    I think May's Laws of Subtraction are an effective way for me to apply the writing lessons I learned in English class to the innovation challenges I face professionally. If I can consciously review whatever my product is (a standard, a training, a process) in between the last and final drafts and eliminate "just the right things in just the right way," I believe that something good WILL happen.