I think anything that helps you along the way is good. If learning licks, or memorizing licks leads you to improvising well then that's great. Learning licks is not how I was taught but it wasn't discouraged either. I think that there is more than one way to approach teaching and learning to improvise and if one way doesn't work than maybe a different approach will. I struggled for quite some time trying to learn how to play jazz, but it wasn't until I found the teacher that was right for me that led me to finally improving. This is why I object when I hear someone say that the only way to learn is their way, or how they learned. Do whatever works for you, whatever gets you to your goals the quickest, life is short. My own experience is that learning some theory will help you in the end. You don't have to be a Professor of music theory, just some basic stuff. Eventually it all comes together, the teaching, the practice, the theory, the understanding and the improving.