Matthew E. May

Matthew E. May is an internationally recognized thought leader on strategy, innovation, and lean. Founder and CEO of StratInnoSys and creator of The Idea Score,TM he specializes in helping executives craft innovative strategies and build the capabilities to implement them.

Matthew has written five books on innovative thinking. His work has appeared in The New York Times, INC Magazine, Strategy+Business, The Rotman Magazine, Fast Company, and Harvard Business Review.

In his talks, Matthew blends his frontline experience with research from his books in order to deliver useful concepts with immediate application, and aims to achieve four things in every address: 1. inspire new thinking; 2. share a unique perspective; 3. tell compelling stories; and 4. deliver practical takeaways.

Matthew holds an MBA from The Wharton School and a BA from Johns Hopkins University, but counts winning the New Yorker cartoon caption contest as one of his most creative achievements.

About his Keynote Speeches

Learn more about the different speeches Matthew can deliver in your next engagement, by clicking on the following tabs.


“Matt did a great job of connecting with the audience; he was extremely credible and knew his material. The feedback we received has been overwhelmingly positive, and would be interested in future presentations.” – Microsoft

“We were so honored that Matt came to speak to our Council on Development, Education and Learning this week. He delivered an excellent presentation on Innovation. We especially appreciated his candor and the open discussion between him and the members. I just wish we had had more time!” – The Conference Board

“Matt gave an outstanding presentation. Everyone raved about it and felt it very motivating. We will be recommending him to other groups in the company!” – Pfizer

The Brain Game: Fixing the Seven Fatal Flaws of Business Thinking

Science confirms the distinction between the biological brain and the conscious mind. Each day, a game of mind versus matter plays out on a field defined by the problems we need to solve. Most are routine, and don’t demand a more mindful approach. It’s when we’re faced with more difficult challenges that our thinking becomes vulnerable to brain patterns that lead us astray: We leap to solutions that simply don’t work; we fixate on old mindsets that keep us stuck in neutral; we overthink problems and make them worse; and we kill the ideas of others, as well as our own. Worse, we keep doing these things, over and over again, naturally and instinctively.

In this provocative and highly interactive keynote, Matthew E. May engages audiences in the same simple thought challenges given to over 100,000 people during a 10-year period. Calling on modern neuroscience and psychology to help explain the “seven fatal flaws,” May draws insight from some of the world’s most innovative thinkers. He then combines a super-curated, field-tested set of “fixes,” proven through hundreds of creative sessions, to raise our thinking game to a more mindful level.

Subtraction: Removing Excess for Better, Smarter Business

How do you stand out and stay relevant in a world that is massively distracting and mostly disruptive? It’s a daunting challenge for everyone, no matter their walk in life. In an age of excess everything, success looks different, and now demands a new skill: Subtraction.

Matthew E. May defines subtraction as simply as the art of removing anything excessive, confusing, wasteful, unnatural, hazardous, hard to use, or ugly—or the discipline to refrain from adding it in the first place. And if subtraction is the new skill to be acquired, we need a guide to developing it. In this keynote, May outlines six simple rules for winning (in business, as well as life) in the age of excess everything, and delivers a single yet powerful idea: When you remove just the right things in just the right way, something very good happens.

Elegant Solutions: Why the Best Ideas in Business Have One Thing Missing

What made The Sopranos finale one of the most-talked-about events in television history? Why is sudoku so addictive and the iPhone so irresistible? What did Jackson Pollock have in common with theoretical physicists and Buddhist monks?

The answer? Elegance.

In this thought-provoking exploration of why certain events, products, and people capture our attention and imaginations, May examines the elusive quality 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. This compelling, story-driven talk that sheds light on the need for elegance in design, engineering, art, urban planning, sports, and work, while offering surprising evidence that the best ideas have something missing … on purpose.

Toyota + Innovation: Forging New Inroads to Invention

Smart leaders know the necessity of thinking differently at every level: creating compelling customer value, flowing that value through streamlined processes, and embedding a cultural discipline around constant creativity and continuous innovation. And no better example of the post-industrial innovative organization exists than Toyota. In an industry with flat demand and product parity, Toyota is able to consistently gain the lion’s share of the consumer’s garage. Behind their ability to perform is a focused and structured approach to everyday innovation, resulting in over 3,000 ideas implemented each day—one million ideas a year. They are an old-school firm with new school rules.


How Game-Changers “Think Different”
The pressure to stand out and stay relevant in a fiercely competitive marketplace demands innovative thinking to jump the curve and move to the next level. That pressure falls squarely on the shoulders of the individual, because companies don’t innovate, people do. The tension between business objectives and creative thinking isn’t easily resolved…unless you can tame the traps of traditional thinking. In this compelling keynote, Matthew takes the audience inside the minds of the world’s most creative executives and entrepreneurs to reveal how they crush the status quo, write their own rules, change the game, and move the world.


Secrets to Achieving the Maximum Effect With Minimum Means
Amidst an arguably expanding world economy, one fact stands clear: business leaders are facing a scarcity of resources. Materials cost increases and other financial burdens combined with an ever-shrinking pool of top talent leaves leaders facing a critical capability challenge. Enter the concept of elegance: achieving the maximum effect with minimum means. In this compelling keynote, Matthew reveals how the best leaders spur creativity and innovation among their ranks by imposing intelligent constraints.


The Art of Playing to Win
Leaders at every level face the same daunting challenge: how to win consistently in a massively disruptive business environment. Enter the need for a forward-looking strategy that enables a player to create a sustainable advantage and superior value relative to the competition. In this talk, Matthew show leaders how to begin with a future-back winning aspiration, then answer two deceptively simple questions: Where will you play? and How will you win? Blending compelling examples with stories from years of front-line experience facilitating strategy sessions, this keynote delivers a master class on competing for the future.