In Pursuit of Elegance
Why the Best Ideas Have Something Missing
Publication Date: September 7, 2010
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What made the Sopranos finale one of the most-talked-about events in television history?
Why is sudoku so addictive and the iPhone so darn irresistible?
What do Jackson Pollock and Lance Armstrong have in common with theoretical physicists and Buddhist monks?
In this thought-provoking exploration of why certain events, products, and people capture our attention and imaginations, Matthew E. May examines the elusive element behind so many innovative breakthroughs in fields ranging from physics and marketing to design and popular culture. Combining unusual simplicity and surprising power, elegance is characterized by four key elements—seduction, subtraction, symmetry, and sustainability. In a compelling, story-driven narrative that sheds light on the need for elegance in design, engineering, art, urban planning, sports, and work, May offers surprising evidence that what’s “not there” often trumps what is.
In the bestselling tradition of The Tipping Point, Made to Stick, and The Black Swan, In Pursuit of Elegance will change the way you think about the world.
MATTHEW E. MAY is the author of the critically acclaimed The Elegant Solution, which won the Shingo Research Prize for Excellence. A popular speaker, he lectures to corporations, governments, and universities around the world, and is currently Senior Lecturer on Creativity and Innovation at Pepperdine University Graduate School of Business. He spent nearly a decade as a close adviser to Toyota, and his articles have appeared in national publications such as USA Today, Strategy+Business, and Quality Progress. He has appeared in The Wall Street Journal and on National Public Radio. A graduate of the Wharton School of Business, he lives in Southern California.
Advance Praise for In Pursuit of Elegance
“In Pursuit of Elegance is a fascinating intellectual romp that will change the way you look at your surroundings. As he takes readers from Jackson Pollock paintings to Dutch intersections to the secret menu at In-N-Out Burger, Matt May reveals the hidden elements beneath genuine innovation. This book is surprising, compelling, and, yes, extremely elegant.”
—Daniel H. Pink, author of A Whole New Mind and The Adventures of Johnny Bunko
“As elegantly written as it is provocative, In Pursuit of Elegance makes a convincing—nay, worldview-shifting—argument that less is best.”
—Ori Brafman, coauthor of Sway
“Enlightening. Makes a compelling case for doing more with less by optimizing the expenditure of one’s assets and resources. That’s something anyone can and should put into practice.”
—Kevin Hunter, president, CALTY Design Research, Inc., Toyota Design Network
“What a masterpiece! The definitive guide to the ‘less is more’ mind-set. I meant to only take a quick glance at In Pursuit of Elegance, but once I started reading it, I couldn’t stop. In a world where everything keeps getting more complicated and overwhelming, Matthew May shows us that if we start looking for things to take out, things to stop doing, and intelligent shortcuts, we will all be happier, do superior work, and live in a better world.”
—Robert I. Sutton, Stanford professor and author of The No Asshole Rule