Matt May is a remarkably talented guy. He is a master of the Toyota production system and co-authored the inspired book The Elegant Solution about the principles underlying Toyota's innovations. Now, Matt has a new book just published this week, In Pursuit of Elegance: Why the Best Ideas Have Something Missing. I first read it several months ago when Matt asked me to write a blurb, and I was blown away by the compelling arguments that Matt made for removing things that are assumed to be essential, leaving things unsaid, unfinished, unexplained. He bases the book on four simple useful and compelling elements of "elegance" (ideas that combine simplicity and the power to surprise): seduction, subtraction, symmetry, and sustainability.
The range and quality of examples that Matt uses to make his points are stunning. For example, in Chapter 4, "Laws of Subtraction" he starts with the Michelangelo's famous statue of David, and then swerves among stories about In-N-Out Burger, Lance Armstrong, Midland bank, a French company known as FAVI, Not So Big Houses, and a few others to show the power of simplicity and surprise. The thing I like about the book is that it a lovely example of taking a simple and powerful idea and, through compelling stories and examples (and principles too) showing how by applying to almost every corner of life, the quality of human experience and emotion can be enhanced, money can be saved, and fewer resources can be squandered. As I said in my blurb, the first time I read it, my aim was to glance at it, and I ended-up reading it from start to finish. This morning, as I started reading it again, I am having trouble putting it down again because Matt does such a great job of providing a new way of looking at everyday things in life, and making them better.
To me, that is the best thing that any book can accomplish -- to change the way we think about and travel through life, and to send us down new paths that help us see opportunities and make choices that are better for ourselves and others.
P.S. Also check out Matt's blog for the book.