Decoding Design

Unstuck: a new tool to spur creative problem solving

Unstuck: a new tool to spur creative problem solving

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Unstuck, a spin-off company from innovation and design consultancy SYPartners, has created a free iPad app that promises to help people resolve challenges via creative exercises.

From SYPartners, the innovation and design firm whose tagline is "we help companies design their future" and whose client list includes Apple, IBM, Target, Nike, and Starbucks, comes a new business, Unstuck. The spin-off company released a free, eponymous iPad app this month (and updated it on December 22) that promises to share exercises of the type that SYPartners has used with their top clients. The idea is to help individuals pinpoint what's holding themselves back from achieving their goals...and design their futures, too.

The app offers 11 free, elegantly designed tools--screens that help you identify what type of person you are, such as a "fuzzy forecaster" or a "tunnel visionary," diagnose the type of problem you need to address, or visually map out a plan of action to move toward a desired outcome. The app offers more than 50 bits of advice, such as "stray from the usual."

Unstuck's creators believe that such a process can work not only for the chief innovation officer-types that SYPartners has consulted with in the past on business and design strategy, but also for everyday individuals looking to accomplish, say, losing weight or getting their personal finances in order. "Unstuck was created to share some of what we've learned about helping leaders and teams navigate through difficult moments with a broader community of people," the SYPartners' Web site states.

Even if at first the concept sounds somewhat like corny, self-help gimmickry, the Unstuck app has steadily been garnering praise. The New Yorker's "Goings On" blog calls it "a tempting download" and Oprah.com's "Life Lift" blog calls it "well-designed," describing it as "an organized way to pinpoint your problem, visualize it, and discover a solution." Indeed, the app is highly engaging, lovely to look at, and easy to use. But the best testimony of all that Unstuck's approaches could work, or at least propel users on an effective creative path to solving a variety of pressing problems, is of course SYPartners' stellar client list.

Images: Unstuck

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Reena Jana

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Reena Jana has written for the New York Times, Wired, Harvard Business Review online, Fast Company, Architectural Record, Artforum, Time Out New York, Harper's Bazaar, and GQ. Previously, she was the innovation department editor at BusinessWeek. She holds degrees from Columbia University and Barnard College. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure