Cues are the subtle signs that help shape and direct situations and experiences. They are extremely powerful because they tend to be processed by our subconscious, require less cognitive load to process (thinking energy), and we tend to accept and follow easily.
Cues occur naturally in social contexts (eg body language), but we can also shape cues to design certain experiences. How we use organise ideas, create movement (be it psychological or physical), use patterns (psychological or physical), colour and shapes all create cues that either confuse and frustrate, or create simplicity and ease.
Here is a concrete example that helps explain the principle. You’re walking down a corridor and you come up to this door…do you push or pull?
The cue of a handle tends to be pull (grabbing the handle is a contracting action) – the handle on your drawers, fridge, car door all mean pull. But guess what? This door has been mis-cued.
To make matters worse, a “push” sign has been added, meaning that not only will you feel frustrated/confused when you pull this door and it doesn’t open, but you then read the sign and feel stupid.
My point is not about doors, it’s about the cues we create and give our teams that create unnecessary frustration or that miss out on creating desired outcomes. These cues are not just for the physical world, but they inform your employees on matters of importance, focus, and timing.
Now, you might be wondering how better cues might fix the door problem, right? Here is an easy solution.
About Lucas Olmos
Lucas is Co-Founder & Director of Musketeers and Social Entrepreneur-in-Residence at UNSW’s Centre for Social Impact. As a Musketeer he works with organisations to design and transform the key experiences across the employee journey. He has studied Psychology, Business and Design, and when noone’s looking he likes to do the moonwalk.