Experiences: UX, CX, SX, PX, OX, EX

While working with one of my customer on designing the vision of his organization as an agile enterprise, came the question, and how do measure it? In front of that whiteboard, I began to explain the following:

  • UX – User Experience is what the user is expecting while using your solution by improving its usage. UX is the reason why people love using iPhones or Apple Computers. The strategy was to increase the usability by just accessing all your apps with a single thumb.
  • CX – Customer Experience is a sequence of actions that creates trust between the enterprise and its customer. It is also the process of caring first about customer´s needs and not the enterprise´s requirements. It is the way the enterprise provides “hospitality” in its relationship with clients. It is about considering them at part of the system called “enterprise”. Customer experience is always unique and custom.
  • SX – Service Experience is a collection of services, tools, processes automatized to be consumed by a customer. It is an updated catalogue of standards that can be easily automatized. A Service is using the lessons learned from CX to update its inventory. 
  • PX – People Experience is a range of actions design to increase motivation, psychological safety, freedom of speech and experiment, co-creation in the best case. Control, opacity, micro-management, dependencies, patronizing in the worst scenario. Kawaii theory is an example of actions that can create high PX: pictures of cute animals or babies have a positive impact and creates empathy factorizing better collective behaviour. Gamification is another approach to remove fear and unleash creativity in problem-solving activities.
  • OX – Organizational Experience. The organization is the context where CX or SX is created. In complex systems theory, it is the safe-to-fail container, the system, the team, the sprint, the release. AO is trying to give a response to continuous re-organization to increase the company’s responsiveness. Nudging is one concept that is used in AO: the boundaries of your system is large enough to feel free to experiment and tight enough to feel safe. Best OX is emergent that means bottom-up when teams or teams members are reorganizing themselves. The worst is top-down when OX is imposed: Bottom-up creates meaning, Top-down control and dissolution.
  • EX – Enterprise Experience is the last level of experiences, the least structure necessary linking OX and PX for CX and SX. That experience defines what the purpose, the wisdom, the values of the enterprise is. Steve Jobs had a “true north” creating excellent EX; it was “I want to put a ding in the universe”.

The Play14 case

At the end of 2013, Yann Gensolen, Cedric Pontet and I gathered to create one of the most successful conferences called Play14 (www.play14.org). The meeting has started in Luxembourg and now in 2020, you find a play14 in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Bari, Basel, Beirut, Berlin, Bologna, Emmental, Hamburg, Kuala-Lumpur, Lisbon, London, Madrid, Mexico City, Milano, Porto, Prague, Stuttgart, Sydney, Timisoara and Vienna. And that network is expanding every year.

Play14 is a two-and-a-half-day open space of severe games to play share and learn.

The design of that conference was for me the test of the AO concept:




CXCustomers are part of the system. They can contribute or consume. The system is built so that customers are creating the agenda: the principle of Open Space Technology.

SXGames, tools, stickies, paper, pens, lego, etc., food, beverages, etc.…
PXAttendees should feel free to experiment in a playful and joyful atmosphere.
OXThe organization is fluid and provides only a platform with simple rules. Mentors and support from the whole community are equipped to organize an event.
EXThe Board is light: only the three founders. Freedom is given to every city to organize themselves.  Core values have to be respected. The community gets full support from the Board whenever they ask.Core values:  – you have to attend one Play14 before organizing one  – no “rockstars”, even if you are a “rockstar” in Play14, you are like any other, and you have to pitch your session  – respect, tolerance  – no business: it is a non-profit organization, and you can use what you learned, but you cannot use the brand for your marketing.

Every Play14 starts in the afternoon. The first day is socializing: we need to know each other before starting our journey. Socialising is mostly two hours of icebreakers, introduction rounds, explanation of the open space tech rules. Usually, the organizers are setting up the stage and explain the rules (simple rules) then they who wants to facilitate the next day. On that moment, the organizers are handing over the conference to the audience for the next two days until the closing session. The first day ends with a corporate dinner in the conference room.

The next days are organized in the most agile and engaging way, which is an open space.

The day starts with ice breakers and warm-ups facilitated by the guys committing previously. In the main room, a vast board is designed with time slots and rooms. Open space rules are explained again:

  • One law: the law of two feet. If you have the feeling not to contribute or learn, use your two feet to place yourself wherever you can bring or get value.
  • Four principles:
    • Whoever comes is the right people
    • Whatever happens, is the only thing that could’ve
    • When it starts is the right time
    • When it’s over, it’s over

Even if these rules are simple and shaped to support self-management, some colleagues have hard times to not micro-manage time even for good reasons. The system will make such behaviour visible, and empathy will help to create a burst of big laughter from it.

The facilitator gathers all the attendees in the main room for debriefing and retrospective. Everyone is free to share their experience, and some organizational aspects are improved. Once the retrospective is done, the facilitators are asking who wants to facilitate the next day.

The next day runs exactly like the day before, but at the end of the retrospective, the organizers take over the place for closing.

From an AO perspective, what can we see?

SeparationSocialising, icebreakers and warm-ups are “separating” the attendees from their “normal” life. “Law of two feet” is allowing a natural separation process.
AlignmentThe open space board with time boxes and the agenda of the day is visible for everyone. That board is the main alignment point for the two and a half days.
CohesionSocialising, location, and meeting “ceremonies” like warm-ups and retrospectives
AvoidanceOpen space rules like the law of two feet.
Simple rulesOnly open space rules. EX rules are only for organization purposes.
Self managementPeople are designing their agenda, and nothing is mandatory.
No central coordinationDuring the event, central coordination is handed over to the open space board. Even the organizers can attend the event as players.
Emergent behaviourRetrospectives help to improve the organization based on emerging behaviour. The conference design provides a nudge to experiment. Socializing is usually very extreme in “craziness” that will be adjusted through the next days delivering options.  Behaviours are different from one city to another. As an example, Hamburg loves to sing, Barcelone love to built towers with people, London likes experimenting new games, and Madrid and Lisbon are just crazy.

Organizational dynamics (system):

The invitation and the registration to the event are “obvious”.

Socialising has a necessary “chaos” dynamic showing that everyone can come with its idea.

 The Open Space Part is entirely “complex,” i.e. time-boxes are self-to-fail containers and people self-managed. The complex behaviour is working until the end of the day. When the time is consumed, and the crowd is gathering for the retrospective, it moves into “complicated”.

The call does the invitation for next day for facilitators, and that closes the day in “simple” again.

That loop is repeating two times until the end of the event following the “Agile Systems Dynamics” or the “Cynefin learning loop” if you prefer.

Play14 is a test for AO

The ultimate AO, on the right side of the five-stage diagram, is using the same approach as the Play14 organizational model.

That approach also experimented in 2012 with Erik Chapier-Maldague in the sKale project. That project was HR centric. The initial idea was to develop a concept allowing: interactions, co-evolution, self-organization and co-production. And the assumptions are tested into financial institutions in Luxembourg.

Work had to be organized like in an open space board where new ideas are emerging and share through the organization. Emerging opportunities can be proposed with simple rules to get integrated into the company portfolio: you have to convince at least five people to work with you.

Erik called it the IPM for Internal Project Market.

The AO stage is using the same approach. The people working in the enterprise are detecting opportunities or threads and don’t need to wait for a decision. The rules are simple.

In that stage, which is entirely open, people are self-managed using ROWE approach. The Result, Only Work Environment, co-created by J.Thompson and C. Ressler where people are working when they want, on what they want and are paid for what they are delivering. That model sounds very interesting from an economic perspective, but you can forget to build a reasonable Enterprise Experience on it. Fact is that freelancers run your enterprise.

There is a possibility in between that I saw at SAP which is work-from-everywhere. That approach helped people to engage themselves on something similar to IPM in a quite low ROWE approach (you still have to produce a certain number of hours for the company), but it created a dynamic allowing self-management and self-commitment. 

The AO stage is an extreme model which helps to determine how far can you be completely agile. That means that governance or the minimal necessary structure is managing a portfolio of investments on internal ventures with straightforward rules. 

Using the X to understand the business model deep design

EX, OX, PX, SX and CX are covering most of emerging business models dynamics that you can find in an organization. On purpose, I won’t address User Experience (UX) which is, in my view, more a technique that experience influencing organizations.

  • Mostly EX

These organizations are creating an influential corporate culture distilling the idea that the most important is the enterprise: I work for company A. Instead, I creating value for company A or my talents are flourishing in company A. Here enterprise comes first, customer second and then people.

With my experience, I’m sensitive to EX-centric organizations. When my customer or someone from a customer’s company is asking if I’m proud to work in company X, I confess, I lie and say “yes, very”. In reality, what matters for me are the people.

I worked a lot with SAP and usually during a conversation with senior management, that question is emerging. My frank answer is often, “I don’t care about the company, but I like you and all my co-workers. That matters more for me”.

EX is necessary but just as a fine line bundling all initiatives in the same convergent direction.

  • Mostly OX

Here it’s all about organizations: bundles of independent small business cases. Risk is that those bundles are not aligned. These structures are very mature, and organization boundaries are evident to all agents. Organizations are systems, ecosystems working for a specific moment in time to achieve a shared purpose.

Exceptions are communities of practice of Chapters. They are not systems and the behaviour there is mostly “complicated”. It is an exciting way to share knowledge but not to create awareness or value.

  • Mostly PX

Communities are mostly PX. The dynamic there is “chaos”. People experience by itself is a high intention and embraces diversity. PX is not an organizational model, but how people in a system are behaving. 

With an egocentric boss, PX is close to zero because everyone has to follow the dictator. In EX-centric organization, you can have a PX policy, but the amount of information is too huge to take action on it. Typical PX are nudging theory and Kawai while influencing PX through empathy and positive behaviour.

  • Mostly SX

This model sounds to be the design of most companies. “We are a service company” is the new Moto. Unfortunately, in SX-centric organizations, the activities are concentrated in Back Office, faraway from the customer. Being a service centre is pleasant, you are at the service of the company. Or more provocatively, at the service of yourself.

A service is a set up of actions that delivers value to your customer. And your customer will pay for it. Good SX oriented companies are measuring the Return of Investment of the provided services. There is a clear service strategy, and the organization is a profit centre, not a cost centre.

The risk in mostly-SX is to provide an argument to avoid responsiveness and maintain the status quo of a controlled structure.

  • Mostly CX

If all the actions of a company are customer-centric, you are living in a perfect world. All the unnecessary work is automatized or outsourced. Your focus is only to provide wealth and happiness for your customer and your enterprise.

In mostly-CX, there are no internal customers. All the customers are outside of the enterprise.

In the next chapter, I will use these strategies to explain in what of the five models your organization is. And what action can help you to evolve to a better place.

Published by PierreENeis

Certified Agile Coach & Trainer, Organization Developer & Advisor

One thought on “Experiences: UX, CX, SX, PX, OX, EX

  1. Pierre, this post really got my attention. The whole-picture you create, and particularly the understanding of OX as the safe-to-fail-forward container for the people and process(es) that produce the results makes a lot of sense to me. Cheers!

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