THE LAWS OF SUBTRACTION : 6 Simple Rules for Winning In The Age of Excess Everything
6 Winning Laws/Arts Of Removing Meaningless Excess For Something Very Good Happens
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★★ 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.
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.
There are three critical choices inherent in every difficult decision in business, work and life:
1 What to pursue, versus what to ignore?
2 What to leave in, versus what to leave out?
3 What to do, versus what not to do?
Most of us focus only on the first half of each of these choices—rarely do we focus on the second half.
But that’s where the laws of subtraction come in, offering a guide for everyday people at levels in all kinds of positions to create more engaging experiences using six simple rules:
Law #1 What isn’t there can often trump what is.
Law #2 The simplest rules create the most effective experience.
Law #3 Limiting information engages the imagination.
Law #4 Creativity thrives under intelligent constraints.
Law #5 Break is the important part of breakthrough.
Law #6 Doing something isn’t always better than doing nothing.
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 Subtractionoutlines 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
In a nutshell, Matthew E May’s The Laws of Subtraction draws its inspiration from the well of design and exemplifies simplicty.
May defines simplicity like this: “This is the art of subtraction: when you remove just the right thing in just the right way, something good usually happens.”
Review From A Lean Journey :
Less is indeed more in our age of excess in everything. Our lives have become complicated, overwhelming, and more demanding.
Award winning author Matthew E. May has an answer for this in his book The Laws ofSubtraction.
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.
The Laws of Subtraction provide insights and lessons towards removing the clutter and honing in on the essence in order to awaken the creativity and innovation that generally gets buried under a deluge of non-essential information.
Through a series of excellent stories that serve as examples for his laws in action, May highlights the unique features of these laws and their applicability to everyday life, both professional and personal.
May has distilled years of research on achieving maximum effect through minimum means into six simple rules.
In each chapter, May introduces you to a few illustrative examples of how a particular law was applied in a powerful way. He uses philosophy and science to explain why a certain law is so effective. One of the many reasons that reading this book is a pure pleasure is that his writing style, storytelling and illustrations reinforce his core message that less can be more… and more meaningful.
While writing this book, Matthew May invited some 50 people to be guest contributors, sharing their thoughts, feelings, and experiences about subtraction. At the end of each chapter is a series of one page articles written by these “guest authors” giving their view of the topic.
I found these to be some of the best part of the book. Each author has their own gems of wisdom. By distilling them to one page, we get the best from each author.
May both challenges you and helps you think a bit differently by using subtraction to better with less. The art of subtraction: when you remove just the right thing in just the right way, something good usually happens.
So if you wanted to be informed and inspired about doing better with less than The Laws of Subtraction is your guide.
I highly recommend Matthew E. May’s The Laws of Subtraction for anyone who wants to simplify and improve the quality of work and life.
About the Author
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.