Who Can Be a Champion?
In discussions of executive championship, there is often an eager volunteer. This person will meet the criterion of being passionate about user experience design. This person will want the job. But this person is likely to be a great candidate for the position of UX Director. The executive champion must truly be a senior executive in the organization.
One criterion that seems to work is that the champion must influence the entire budget across the target design areas. Looking at the need for user experience design across an organization can be a bit overwhelming. There are needs on the public website(s). The call center has issues. Software products have issues. The intranet and back-office operations have issues. User experience design seems to be needed everywhere. If the champion is going to be really effective, he or she needs to have an overarching role across everything. This might seem to be a clear call for championship by the CEO. In fact, while CEO support is very useful, CEOs usually don’t make great champions. The CEO will not have sufficient time and attention to spend on the job of executive champion. Instead, this role should usually be filled by someone just a bit lower in the organization. It is a real challenge to find a champion who will have time to really do the job well and at the same time covers a large enough area of the organization.
In the evolution of institutionalization, it is often the case that we start in one area of the business and then expand to the full organization. Certainly, there will eventually be a need for a single, central organization that supports the user experience design effort—otherwise, things will become fragmented and ineffective. But it is better to have a serious executive champion in a key area and focus on that area than to be spread thin and have spotty support.