The Laws of Subtraction by Matthew May
6 Simple Rules for Winning in the Age of Excess Everything

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It is a pity, given the need to simplify many business processes, that May adds so little to the sum of knowledge about how to do it.
-LA Times

Synopsis

Winner of a 2013 Small Business Book Award for Economics

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. Everybody 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, 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.

The Laws of Subtraction features contributions by over 50 highly regarded thinkers, creatives, and executives.

On Law #1: What Isn't There Can Often Trump What Is

"When you reduce the number of doors that someone can walk through, more people walk through the one that you want them to walk through." -- SCOTT BELSKY, founder and CEO of Behance and author of Making Ideas Happen

On Law #2: The Simplest Rules Create the Most Effective Experience

"Keeping it simple isn't easy. By exploiting subtraction in innovation, we've been able to create an environment of freedom and creativity that allows us to thrive." -- BRAD SMITH, CEO, Intuit

On Law #3: Limiting Information Engages the Imagination

"Subtraction can mean the difference between a highly persuasive presentation and a long, convoluted, and confusing one. Why say more when you can say less?" -- CARMINE GALLO, author of The Apple Experience

On Law #4: Creativity Thrives Under Intelligent Constraints

"Here's the key to the conundrum for managers who want to stoke the innovation fire: That close cousin of scarcity, constraint, can indeed foster creativity." -- TERESA AMABILE, author of The Progress Principle

On Law #5: Break Is the Important Part of Breakthrough

"If you kill the butterflies in your stomach, you'll kill the dream. Embrace the feeling. Save the butterflies." -- JONATHAN FIELDS, author of Uncertainty

On Law #6: Doing Something Isn't Always Better Than Doing Nothing

"When we're faced with the greatest odds against us, often we need to edit rather than add." -- CHIP CONLEY, cofounder of Joie de Vivre Hospitality and author of Emotional Equations

 

About Matthew May

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MATTHEW E. MAY is the author of three award-winning books: "The Elegant Solution", "In Pursuit of Elegance", and "The Shibumi Strategy". A popular speaker, creativity coach, and 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.
 
Published October 26, 2012 by McGraw-Hill Education. 241 pages
Genres: Business & Economics. Non-fiction
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LA Times

Below average
Reviewed by Andrew Hill on Jan 27 2013

It is a pity, given the need to simplify many business processes, that May adds so little to the sum of knowledge about how to do it.

Read Full Review of The Laws of Subtraction: 6 Si... | See more reviews from LA Times

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