Looking at the fledgling world of UX, I see a mistake I've seen before.
In the early 2000s, agile and Scrum were in vogue. Everyone wanted to do Scrum because everyone else was doing Scrum and because agile was the right thing to do. Out of this desire came a new breed of Scrum consultants who offered a monotonic process and helped teams adapt to it. These consultants took their process and deployed it to every team, regardless of whether it was the best fit for that team. Now that UX is on the rise, I see the same pattern.
Everyone wants "UX" and that creates a market. This market is full of consultants who have their standardised UX process that they sell. Well, here's the problem: neither agile nor UX allow for a rigid process. The agile manifesto is right: people and interactions before processes and tools Just as I didn't believe Scrum was the answer to everything, I now firmly believe there is no standard approach to UX. Of course there are patterns: field studies can provide useful results. Contextual studies can provide the framework for the whole user experience. Wireframes can flesh out what was previously abstract. Prototypes are useful for evaluating ideas or approaches. But combining these methods in a standard process with a fixed order is not helpful - on the contrary - it is harmful. It prevents us from questioning which method is useful right now, from listening to our team and finding out which next steps work best for the project.
Even with projects that are very similar, we have to choose different methods and different communication styles from our toolbox to be really successful. So when I am asked about "our" UX process, the honest answer is: "It depends". Because we take all the experience we have and use it to adapt to the situation at hand. We are designers! It's our job to step into someone else's shoes and be flexible - or, dare I say it, agile!