Keith Yamashita: The Tech Tools That Build Better Creative Teams [PSFK 2014]

Keith Yamashita: The Tech Tools That Build Better Creative Teams [PSFK 2014]

There are plenty of apps out there that help project managers, but what makes for a more in-sync innovation team?

Nestor Bailly, PSFK
  • 11 april 2014

In anticipation of his presentation at the PSFK CONFERENCE 2014 we spoke with the Chairman & Founder of SYPartners Keith Yamashita about his Unstuck app, a product to help professionals get past creative and personal blocks. Check out his interview below to get a sneak peek at what he’ll talk about on April 11th.

Why do you think so many creatives find themselves stuck?

I always say, the people who get stuck the most often are the ones who lead the most daring lives. As creatives, our work can be inspiring, joyful, and satisfying—but often, it is also challenging, painful, and leads to getting stuck. That comes when we have a stare down with reality—our passion may outstrip our actual skill, our dream may outclass our resources to realize it, the problem to be solved may be larger than the creativity we can summon.

I believe that creatives get stuck because we care so deeply. The best of us know that getting stuck is not pejorative. But rather, it’s a pitstop on the way to a major breakthrough.

Do you think that tech is the cause or the cure of being stuck? Or both?

‘Tech’ in and of itself is never really the problem or the solution. I can say that in my case—and in the case of my team at SY—we think a lot about our relationship to technology. And what and how we invoke it: The Leica M that I adore, that allows me to capture moments that would otherwise escape me. A moment when we use the Unstuck app to work through a situation. Or another when we use our iPads—and something we call the SYToolkit—which is a set of brilliant off-the-shelf apps combined with some custom apps we’ve create to allow us all to be more creative. It’s really a matter of knowing yourself, and knowing which tool to invoke to bear down on the work.

What are other issues that are going unchallenged in the many creative industries?

There are plenty of tools out there to help planners plan. And project managers manage. And the finance team track budgets. But few developers are addressing the fundamental truth about the way we actually work today—we work in teams, where creativity meets collaboration. What makes for a more creative team? What makes for a healthier team dynamic (after all, most of the stress in teams comes from the human dynamics)? SYProducts—our products division—thinks there is huge opportunity at the intersection of these two basic questions.

What’s next for the Unstuck app?

We’ve been overwhelmed by the support and engagement from the Unstuck community that’s been cultivated through the iPad app. But we heard again and again how people wished they could use it on their mobile phone, or share it with a friend who didn’t have access to an iPad. Now, we’re thrilled to announce that we’re expanding beyond the iPad and making parts of Unstuck available as a web app that works on a wide variety of devices. Learn more at

What’s one thing we can look forward to (without giving too much away) in your talk at PSFK CONFERENCE 2014?

Time travel. Charles and Ray. And an experiment we’re trying for the first time.

Thanks Keith!

Check out our conference page to see more of innovative industry leaders who will be speaking at our event.

We hope to see you at there! Click below to buy tickets.



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