Creativity and innovation are something you can’t flowchart out. Some things you can, and we do, and we’re very disciplined in those areas. But creativity isn’t one of those. A lot of companies have innovation departments, and this is always a sign that something is wrong when you have a VP of innovation or something. You know, put a for-sale sign on the door.
— Tim Cook, CEO, Apple in this Business Week interview.
You could easily exchange ‘user experience’ for ‘innovation’ in this context. Creating a UX or innovation department can be a step towards making them core and self-evident in company culture, but it is only a step, not an end in itself. The longer they are confined to a subset of staff, the harder it becomes to change the experience of customers.
This does not invalidate the specific practitioner skills – interface design, user research, information architecture and others – too often lumped under the generalist heading of ‘UX’, but is rather a reminder they should be tools to achieve a customer experience understood by everyone in an organisation.