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The Backstory

Short Story (aka bio)

Matthew E. May counsels executives and teams on matters of strategy, culture, and innovation through his firm, EDIT Innovation. He spent over eight years as a close advisor to Toyota. Matt has written four books on business innovation, his latest being THE LAWS OF SUBTRACTION: 6 Simple Rules for Winning in the Age of Excess Everything (McGraw-Hill, ©2013). He writes regularly for American Express OPEN Forum, HBR blog network, and University of Toronto's progressive periodical, The Rotman Magazine. He holds an MBA from The Wharton School and a BA from Johns Hopkins University, but he considers winning the The New Yorker cartoon caption contest as one of his proudest and most creative achievements.


Longer Story

Matthew E. May was the only member of the Wharton Graduate School of Business' graduating class of 1985 to decline lucrative ivestment banking, management consulting, and corporate strategy job offers in favor of starting his own educational consulting company.

As a solopreneur, Matthew 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 the likes of Lehman Brothers, Pfizer, J.D. Power & As
sociates, Sandy Corporation, Maritz Performance Improvement, Nissan Motor Corporation, Infiniti, Harley Davidson, Mitsubishi, and Hyundai Motor America.

Then in 1998…

…he 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, his involvement grew to a full-time engagement, a journey of over eight years, and during which he gained mastery of kaizen (continuous innovation) and kaikaku (radical change). During his last two years with Toyota, Matt lead 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.

His close partnership lasted until 2006, when he took what he learned through this life-changing experience and published his first book, The Elegant Solution: Toyota's Formula for Mastering Innovation, as a 2006 Wall Street Journal bestseller and the recipient of the Shingo Prize for Excellence, and a 800CEORead "Best Business Books 2006" nominee.

EDIT was launched shortly after its publication.

The concept of elegance has been at the heart of Matthew's philosophy, which can be defined in three simple words: 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."

Born at the midpoint of his partnership with Toyota --an event Matt wrote about in the Preoccupations column of the Sunday edition of The New York Times in an article entitle The Art of Adding By Taking Away -- and fully integrated into his work and life by the time he left to pursue his new path of writing, speaking, and consulting, elegance as a core tenet remains Matthew's guiding purpose.


The success of The Elegant Solution, Matthew published three more books over the next six years, for a total of four to date:

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.

Matt is a regular contributor to Harvard Business Review blogs, Fast Company Design, OPEN Forum Idea Hub, and University of Toronto's The Rotman Magazine.


Matt's work has been featured or mentioned in Harvard Business Review, Strategy+Buisness, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Fortune, USA Today, 99U, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Time, Forbes, INC magazine, Fast Company, Wharton Leadership Digest, CIO Insight, American Enterprise Institute, The Miami Herald, and The Los Angeles Times. He has appeared on numerous radio shows, television, and online shows, including MSNBC, NPR, and ESPN.

A complete list of articles and appearances may be found here:

The Name EDIT

What's in a name? The name EDIT was chosen as the name of Matthew's firm for two reasons. First, the word "edit" captures the essence of improvement through subtraction. As Lao Tzu wrote 2500 years ago: "To attain knowledge, add things every day. To attain wisdom, subtract things every day."

Matthew is in the wisdom business.EDIT-128

The logo design utilizes the first law of subtraction (what isn't there can often trump what is) with use of a negative space minus sign to denote the act of editing.

Second, EDIT is an acronym for the central creative process that enables someone to consistently produce innovative, elegant solutions: empathize, define, ideate, test. It is this iterative loop around which "design thinking" revolves.


Over the years Matt has been fortunate have partnered with some of the world's most visible and engaging brands, including those pictured here.



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