What’s on Your NOT-To-Do List?

Monday, July 27th, 2009

Can’t see the above video? Click here to watch or you can read the transcript.

In this video interview, Matthew May, supporting faculty at the Graziadio School of Business and Management, and author of the recently released book, In Pursuit of Elegance:Why the Best Ideas Have Something Missing, discusses the four principles of elegance: symmetry, seduction, subtraction, and sustainability. Instead of having a to-do list, May says, find elegance in your professionial life by creating a NOT-to-do list.

In Pursuit of Elegance debuted at #1 on 800CEORead.com and #2 in the Creativity & Genius category on Amazon. Professor May was also a long-time consultant to the University of Toyota and the author of the critically acclaimed The Elegant Solution, which won the Shingo Research Prize for Excellence.

Questions for Professor May:

  1. What is elegance in terms of business?
  2. What is the opposite of elegance in business?
  3. Explain the four key elements of elegance.
  4. What is the role of emotional intelligence in leadership development?
  5. How can a business manager “find” elegance?
  6. What’s the big takeaway from In Pursuit of Elegance?

Related in the GBR

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Reviews of Leaders Make the Future: Ten New Leadership Skills for an Uncertain World by Robert M. Fulmer, PhD

Insights from Keith McFarland, author of The Breakthrough Company by Wayne Strom, PhD

Topic: Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Leadership, Management, Videos
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Mike Sporer

July 28, 2009 at 5:06 PM

Matt’s book is excellent! The ideas are applicable to very many aspects of life. Think about the implications for public education?


July 28, 2009 at 8:23 PM

The concept of ‘taking away’ to improve customer value is an interesting insight – and brilliant. So many products today fall into the trap of feature overload, which ultimately decreases the actual value to the customer. As Professor May suggests, the SmartPhone is a perfect example!

Thank you for the excellent interview – I will be taking to heart the Simplicity + Impact = Elegance equation.

Jennifer H

August 7, 2009 at 7:19 PM

The concept of a “not to do list” is rather interesting, but how can one get beyond the basics? I was laughing about the comment on the “smartphone.” So true.


August 9, 2009 at 5:50 AM

First time I hear of this and I think it really makes sense.


November 17, 2009 at 6:16 AM

Hehe I’ve heard of a “to do” list, but I don’t really get a “Not to-do list”? Surely you just make sure you don’t do them? ^_^


December 16, 2009 at 4:43 PM

To-Do lists are commong, but a “not to do list” was a totally new concept, but I guess, equally important. Like, “do not make a fool out of yourself” or don’t eat so and so :P

Interesting for sure.

Burn Fat Guy

January 12, 2010 at 10:37 AM

Interesting, I’ve never heard of a “not to do” list before. I guess it depends how much time you spent doing deciding on what you should not be doing. Could be time consuming :)

cisco asa

May 8, 2010 at 6:00 AM

Prof Matthew May is a brilliant academic person. His innovative ideas and the concept of Elegance are very intuitive indeed

best registry cleaners

June 24, 2010 at 4:54 PM

Interesting post, I guess everybody should have his or her own not to do list running continuously through their mind.
Life has too many rules already!

samual j simpson

September 26, 2011 at 4:52 AM

next step!


  1. New or Different? at Graziadio Business Report Blog