Feeling stuck seems to be an essential component of life as a human being. Job security, aging parents, when to have a child, money and health-these are all modern day stressors that can leave us feeling well…stuck.

If your levels of anxiety are truly overwhelming or you exhibit symptoms of depression, therapy and assistance from a clinical professional is very important. The award-wining Unstuck app from SYPartners is not meant a as a replacement for therapy but as a cognitive toolbox for everyone who is experiencing a “stuck” moment. 

Winner of the 2012 Webby Award for Best Lifestyle App for Tablet, Unstuck simply seeks to find the ways you are stuck and the tools to get unstuck. It does this in a highly visually exciting, clear and dare I say-fun way. It first helps you identify the category or the way in which you are stuck, assigning it a label and then gives you an array of different tools to attack the problem. It is a multifaceted approach especially appealing to those of us who have a hard time even admitting to ourselves we are stuck. 


Starting out a ’stuck’ 

I had a chance to speak with some of the people who had a hand in developing Unstuck. I wanted to ask them about the success of the app and insights into their process:

RD: When Unstuck came out a couple of years ago, it received several accolades including making the iTunes Best of 2012 app list. How did it feel for your team to have such a success out of the gate?

Nancy Hawley, Vice President of Content + Community, Unstuck: “Validating. And a huge relief. We had a strong hunch about Unstuck because it is based on the IP we’ve generated over the past 20 years as a consulting firm. But when you create something that’s never existed before, there is the very real possibility that people just won’t understand the premise. But people got it right away and continue to in ways we had never imagined.

RD: Have you received feedback from Unstuck users about how they have been integrating the app into their lives? Any personal story that sticks out for you?

Nancy: “Yes, and to our delight, people are using it in ways we have never conceived of. One of my favorite uses is the executive who brings it out in meetings when he and his partners hit an impasse. Together, they go through the diagnostic. The process of having to agree on the answers leads them to a greater understanding of what each of them is thinking. One of our earliest adopters uses Unstuck with her son who has ADHD. He gets stuck a lot, and by using the Unstuck app, she is better able to understand what is holding him back and then work with him on it. On the opposite end, I’ve also heard from people with OCD who find the app helpful when they need to break out of a cycle and get something else done. Creatives are also in our fan base. There is a group of script writers who use to develop character dialogue. And a composer has told me that Unstuck helped him find the motivation to finish his album, decide on the design of his album cover and even write a song.”


In Unstuck, after describing why you are stuck you are asked to pick cards symbolizing how being stuck makes you feel. 

RD: The design is distinctive, intuitive and visually exciting. Was your design team inspired by a particular aesthetic?

Audrey Liu, Creative Director for SYProducts: “We weren’t inspired by any particular design aesthetic per se, rather, we were inspired by human interaction. We hoped to create and experience which brought to mind some common and simple analog exchanges to not only engage people in a delightful way, but to allow them to focus most on the act of getting unstuck. To complement these interactions, we chose a combination of photography, illustration and bold typography to create a visual identity that would suit both your easiest and toughest stuck moments”.


Once you have your stuck labeled you are able to use different tools to analyze it. One is ‘Pros Vs. Pros’ where you explore the pros of two different actions you could take on your stuck. You choose which positive traits are associated with which decision under a short time frame. It allows you to “gut check” the decision. 

RD: Are there any plans for another app by SYPartners?

Nancy: “Yes, we have a web based app called Teamworks ( that is currently in beta. Its designed to help managers and their teams work better together so they can achieve their best results possible. It takes a human approach to what gets in the way of good collaboration and provides the tools to get past those obstacles.”

As apps have increasingly become more and more relevant, the ones which are useful tools helping us to live a better life or which provide a service in increasingly novel and portable ways rise to the surface. Unstuck is definitely worth checking out because of its clarity of use and intuitive navigation. Thank you to Nancy and the Unstuck team for the interview!

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