provocative. practical. proven. published.

think to win

STRATEGIC THINKING

creating competitive advantage

STRATEGIC THINKING

Download a 1-page brochure on strategic thinking and session information.

DESIGN THINKING

developing elegant solutions

DESIGN THINKING

Download a 1-page brochure on design thinking and session information.

LEAN THINKING

simplifying complex workflows

LEAN THINKING

Download a 1-page brochure on lean thinking and session information.

MINDFUL THINKING

achieving mental clarity

MINDFUL THINKING

Confidential mental coaching for professional executives, artists, and athletes.

sessions

Strategy Summits

Strategy Summits

What is strategy? The best definition on the planet is the one given by mentor Roger Martin: strategy is an integrated cascade of five critical choices, at the heart of which are two key questions: Where will we play? and How will we win?

Strategy summits produce the answers.

Design Sprints

Design Sprints

Winning ideas are rare. Asking people to "be creative" won't produce them. Neither will unfocused brainstorming. You need a sound method designed to let people see things in new ways, and break free from old thinking patterns.

Design thinking sprints do just that.

Lean Prototyping

Lean Prototyping

Even the best idea is just a guess, an hypothesis, to be quickly tested through simple, fast and frugal experiments that get things "roughly right" and offer rapid proof of concept.

Lean prototyping sessions turn creativity into creation.

Kaizen Challenges

Kaizen Challenges

The vaunted Toyota Production System is built on kaizen, the Japanese concept of continuous innovation, a discipline focused on delivering greater value through waste reduction.

Kaizen challenges foster relentless improvement.

milestones

0
BESTSELLING BOOKS
0
+
WINNING STRATEGIES
0
+
ELEGANT SOLUTIONS
0
+
LEAN IMPROVEMENTS

books



Speaking

Win The Brain Game

Win The Brain Game

In this provocative and interactive session based my latest book Winning the Brain Game, I reveal the seven fatal flaws of thinking, discovered over a 10-year period in which over 100,000 people were given a simple thought challenge.

Laws of Subtraction

Laws of Subtraction

This keynote draws upon my book The Laws of Subtraction. I outline six simple rules for standing out and staying relevant, built on a single yet powerful idea: When you remove just the right things in just the right way, something good happens.

Innovation Zen

Innovation Zen

This keynote draws on the Zen aesthetic design principles and Japanese practices as revealed in my award-winning business fable, The Shibumi Strategy: A Powerful Way to Create Meaningful Change.

Elegant Solutions

Elegant Solutions

In this popular speech I deliver the key elements to creating and developing ideas and solutions that achieve the maximum effect with the minimum means, based on my book In Pursuit of Elegance.

Toyota On Innovation

Toyota On Innovation

This talk draws from my success in applying wisdom gleaned from nearly a decade of working with Toyota, as found in my books The Elegant Solution. I offer the ten key practices critical for fostering a culture of continuous innovation.

me

I coach companies on matters of strategy, innovation, and lean. I’ve been at it for over 25 years, nearly a third of which were spent as a fully-retained creative advisor to Toyota, an experience which culminated in my first book. I now have four, and I’m working on my fifth. Meantime, I write and speak widely to audiences interested in rethinking their businesses.

Winning The New Yorker cartoon caption contest is my favorite achievement.

Matthew E. May

Matthew E. May

Author
50%
Speaker
75%
Coach
100%

Longer Story

I was the only member of the Wharton Graduate School of Business’ graduating class of 1985 to decline lucrative investment banking, management consulting, and corporate strategy job offers in favor of starting my own educational consulting company.

Crazy, right?!

As a solopreneur, I worked for the next thirteen years, first in New York City and then Los Angeles, for companies looking to build effective performance improvement programs and initiatives: companies like Lehman Brothers, Pfizer, J.D. Power & Associates, Sandy Corporation, Maritz Performance Improvement, Nissan Motor Corporation, Infiniti, Harley Davidson, Mitsubishi, and Hyundai Motor America.

Then in 1998…

…I met Toyota. Specifically, the University of Toyota, one of Toyota’s seven “New Era” strategies designed to accommodate the unprecedented global growth the company was experiencing, charged with keeping sacrosanct the principles, tenets, and practices of “the Toyota way.” From an initial project involving the design and facilitation of the new organization’s first strategic offsite, my involvement grew to a full-time engagement, a journey of over eight years, during which I gained mastery of kaizen (continuous innovation) and kaikaku (radical change). During my last two years with Toyota, I led the University of Toyota’s external Lean Thinking program, which taught other organizations Toyota’s winning ways, and caught the eye of The Wall Street Journal.

My partnership lasted until 2006, when I decided to take the show on the road. I took what I had learned from my Toyota experience and published my first book, The Elegant Solution: Toyota’s Formula for Mastering Innovation. Thanks to Simon & Schuster, it was a 2006 Wall Street Journal bestseller and the recipient of the Shingo Prize for Excellence.

Cool beans!

At the heart of my worldview is the concept of elegance, which I think of as a 3-word mantra: less is best. Elegance is the special breed of simplicity that Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. referred to when he wrote, “I would not give a fig for simplicity on this side of complexity, but I would give my life for simplicity on the other side complexity.” It’s the ability to achieve the maximum effect through minimum means.

And it ain’t easy.

It took me a while to “get it,” and I almost gave up. I wrote about the turning point in the Preoccupations column of the Sunday edition of The New York Times in an article entitled The Art of Adding By Taking Away

I’m still chasing elegance.

Thank you, Toyota, for rewiring my brain.

 

EDUCATION

I hold an MBA in Organizational Design and Marketing from The Wharton School (1985) and a BA from Johns Hopkins University (1981). I received my training in design thinking from The Stanford d school (2010).

Writing & Media

WRITING

I’ve published four books:

THE ELEGANT SOLUTION: Toyota’s Formula for Mastering Innovation (Free Press, ©2006). Wall Street Journal bestseller. Winner, Shingo Prize for Research.

IN PURSUIT OF ELEGANCE: Why the Best Ideas Have Something Missing (Crown Business  ©2009, 2010). Named to 2009 BusinessWeek Best Books in Design and Innovation list.

THE SHIBUMI STRATEGY: A Powerful Way to Create Meaningful Change (Jossey-Bass,  ©2011). Gold medal winner, Axiom Award for Best Business Fable.

THE LAWS OF SUBTRACTION: 6 Simple Rules for Winning in the Age of Excess Everything (McGraw-Hill, ©2013). 800CEORead bestseller.

I’m a regular contributor to Harvard Business Review blogs, Fast Company Design, ChangeThis.com, Strategy+Business, AMEX OPEN Forum, and University of Toronto’s The Rotman Magazine.

There are dozens of other contributions out there, and you can view my writing portfolio on the very cool site CONTENTLY.

MEDIA

In addition to my editorial contributions, my work has been featured or mentioned in Harvard Business Review, The Globe & MailThe New Yorker, Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Business Insider, LDRLB, Fortune, USA Today, 99U, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, The Dallas News, Time, Forbes, INC magazine, Fast Company, Wharton Leadership Digest, CIO Insight, American Enterprise Institute, The Miami Herald, and The Los Angeles Times.

I have appeared on numerous radio shows, television, and online shows, including MSNBC, NPR, CNBC, and ESPN.

Speaking

SpeakerMedley

I don’t fancy myself a “motivational speaker” or “business guru,” but rather a practitioner of business strategy, innovation, and lean thinking with powerful lessons learned and war stories to tell from years in the trenches with companies ranging from small startups to companies as large and multinational as Toyota.

I try to blend my frontline experience as a creative catalyst and innovation strategist with case studies and stories I’ve researched and written about in books and articles, in order to deliver useful concepts with immediate application.

I aim to achieve four things in every address:

  1. 1. inspire new thinking
  2. 2. share a unique perspective
  3. 3. tell compelling stories
  4. 4. deliver practical takeaways

 

I am exclusively represented by Katrina Smith, President of Keynote Speakers, Inc., headquartered in San Francisco.

New Yorker Contest

NewYorkerCartoon-320x253

March 2008

"What appears to be the problem, isn't.
What appears to be the solution, isn't.
What appears to be impossible, isn't."

From My Blog

Visual One-Pagers

Back in October I introduced you to the subtractive art of Todd Clarke, who creates visual one-pagers for books. Realizing there may be an attractive market for his unique art, he’s decided to kick things up a notch or two. He recently launched VisualOnePagers.com, and unsolicited by me, produced a couple of one-pagers for two recent posts of mine.
Pretty cool beans, if you ask me.

Read More

Is Your Business Fit?

For me, fitness is everything. Having been woken up a few years ago to the fact that I might not be as fit as I thought I was, it figures centrally in life. It requires more than simply eating right and exercising…two things that many people struggle with. It demands a mental discipline that few people are equipped to handle alone. Fortunately, I had a nutritionist and cardiologist to assist me.

Read More

How To Write a Book in 45 Days

It came together fast. Perhaps too fast. The proposal and contract for a new book, that is. It took all of a couple weeks to go from a 1-page concept to signed contract.

Most authors would rejoice at that kind of speed, and indeed I did. The problem was that under ordinary circumstances, the publisher would take a year to get the book out. Crazy, right?

So I said, “No way. It’s gotta be a Spring release. May/June, latest.” My editor said, “Ok. We need the script November 1.”

Careful what you wish for…it was September 16. That gave me all of about 45 days to write a book, of which I had written less than half of what would eventually become the Introduction.

Read More

CONTACT










captcha