The 5Es and 6Ps Experience Inventory: A Conversation Guide

Daniel Stillman
5 min readAug 4, 2017

Let’s say you’re throwing a party. If you invite people over to your house, you want them to have a nice time, right? Maybe come back the next time you have a party or invite you over the next time they’re having a get-together.

If you put the cups and ice by the drinks at your party you’re designing a nice experience for your guests. Or you might mix them all together in a lovely cocktail. A wonderfully designed experience!

Who would put the ice in the closet, the cups by the couch and the drinks in the bathroom? And yet…people design experiences like this every day.

Everything is an experience.

In one way or another, if there are people involved, they are having a good time or a bad time. If you own a restaurant, a dry cleaners, a movie theater, a hospital, a website or an insurance company…you can’t expect to stay in business very long if people routinely feel dissatisfied with the experience you provide. If you’re a teacher, a facilitator, an HR professional…the same is true. You shape human experiences. If you are good at what you do, you shape them well!

What does a “well shaped” experience look like? What are the components?

If you want to skip to the chase and download the worksheet head over here.

The 5 Es of Experience Design

Without a doubt, the first time I saw the 5 Es framework, it got tattooed onto my brain. It’s got rhythm. It covers the bases. If you can track these five phases of an experience, you understand the 360 experience you want someone to have when they interact with a system you’ve set up. It’s not complicated. I’m not even sure if it’s original. If you do a google image search you’ll find many examples, and most signs point to the Doblin Group.


How are people drawn into the experience? What’s the invitation? What’s the trigger that gets it all started?


What is the threshold event? What happens to bring them into the experience? How do we know they have been drawn in?


What is the peak or core experience you want your guest to enjoy? What tasks are they doing? How do we define “conversion”…someone on the inside, firmly, instead of the outside?


Everything that starts, ends. How do we manage the the exit with grace and style?


What’s next? How do we allow people to stay engaged? Are there follow up actions or next steps? Do people want to stay engaged in the future? How can we set ourselves up for a cadence of engagement?

How to have the 5Es Conversation: The Simple Way

The simplest way to have a conversation about your key customer or stakeholder experience is to just write the 5 Es on the wall and ask: How is (person X) experiencing our (product/service) throughout the whole life cycle?

I am a fan of thinking alone before we think in groups, so a worksheet or some plain paper for people to sketch a happy/sad axis and a 5Es axis can help make sure you get everyone thinking before sharing together.

The Experience Inventory: The Full Monty

If you want to get into the nitty gritty, you need to do an experience inventory. ideally, this should be based on research, both primary and secondary! But, in a pinch, if you get the right people in the room with enough absorbed experience, you may get enough insights on what’s working and what’s broken to get started on a design sprint to fix the biggest issues.

The 6Ps to track for seamless experiences

There are two ways I like to manage the experience inventory conversation with groups. One is to bring another Doblin framework in: The AEIOU framework! That’s Activities, Environments, Interfaces, Objects and Users. But, sometimes people get the Es mixed up and it’s not pretty. (If you want to learn more about this solid conversation frame head over here)

So the 5 Ps from the service design world works great. (I first learned about this framework from Izac Ross, now at Cooper) I’ve added a sixth P to round things out:

Plusses and Deltas

What’s currently working in the experience and what’s broken? (Delta is the Greek letter used to symbolize change in a system in physics)


Who are the other people who make the experience possible? How are they helping or hurting?


What objects are involved that make the service or experience work?


What business processes are at play here? These might need to be mapped out separately to clarify the issues.


Where is this happening? How do we transition from place to place?


Are there other businesses who come into play to make the experience possible?

The Full Monty Experience Inventory tries to track all the aspects that go into curating an experience and maps the phases a particular person would experience as they move through it from start to end.

Focusing on one particular phase, moment, or channel that is really blocking progress is a natural next step. The Inventory can help you find those spots!

The Experience Inventory Conversation Guide

Download the worksheet at my site (yes, I want your email! No, I won’t spam you. And no, you don’t have to pay for it, although tipping is allowed. If you have a better system than gumroad, let me know!)

A 5 Es conversation in progress

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If you want to learn more about conversation design and using experience design to shape conversations, check out my podcast