People or Processes? How to Achieve Quality

                If an organization wanted to achieve excellence, it should focus on its people.  Such an organization should develop and motivate its people to drive quality through a cultural change toward delivering customer value and continuously improving and learning.  That cultural change in people means that the people of the company will then improve the processes, adopt excellence and improvement frameworks, and develop practices and katas that will drive excellence.  An organization cannot effectively develop processes and automation to the point that people are not the key factor in excellence.  Even the automation needs to be creatively and carefully crafted by people.

                It is an oversimplification to think that a process can be perfected to the point where human interaction, creativity, and problem solving are no longer a factor.  In systems thinking, it important to integrate and maximize “between people, activities, processes, policies, places, and resources” (Tjendra, 2018).  People are the first consideration.  Even the two top principles of Deming’s Total Quality Management (TQM):  being customer-focused and having total employee involvement illustrate the importance of people on excellence.  Likewise, the EFQM Fundamental Concepts of Excellence illustrate that it drives culture (people) and has key concepts around change management (people), harnesses creativity and innovation (people), leads with vision, inspiration, and integrity (people), manages with agility (people), and succeeds through the talent of people (EFQM, n.d.).

                Processes and people are linked, but I believe that I can get the most value out of a solution if I follow the Agile Manifesto and focus on “individuals and interactions over processes and tools” (Agile Manifesto, 2001).  Agile is a respected management mindset that has extended beyond software to create a customer-driven concept in any industry (Denning, 2016).  Alex Honor explains that the principle is more amplified by saying it as people over process over tools, meaning that people are more important than process (Honor, 2010).

                Even in using statistical process control methods like Six Sigma and the Taguchi Method, although they seem to be highly impersonal and process focused, depend highly upon the involvement and participation of people. Shyam Kumar Karna and Dr. Rajashwar Sahai, discussing the Taguchi Method, focuses on understanding and optimizing the process, but also said “It is also pointed out that the Taguchi Method is also very compatible with human focused quality evaluation approaches” (Karna, 2012, p.16).  In Six Sigma, Six Sigma: The Impact of Personnel on Process Improvement:  Empowered employees are critical to Six Sigma’s success indicates that the engagement of employees at all levels, including their imagination and initiative, is crucial for success (InfinityQS, 2019).

                The process can only be planned, done, checked, and acted upon by people.  If problems exist in the process, then people need to define the problem, measure the problem, analyze the problem, improve the process around problem, and control the process to make sure that the situation is improved.  Every one of these steps is a human step and cannot be automated.


Agile Manifesto. (2001). Manifesto for Agile Software Development. Retrieved from

ASQ. (n.d.). What is Total Quality Management (TQM)? Retrieved from

Denning, S. (2016). What is Agile? Retrieved from

EFQM. (n.d.). The Concepts. Retrieved from

Honor, A. (2010). People over Process over Tools. Retrieved from

InfinityQS. (2019). Six Sigma: The Impact of Personnel on Process Improvement:  Empowered employees are critical to Six Sigma’s success.  Retrieved from

Karna, S. K., & Sahai, R., (2012).  An overview on Taguchi method.  International Journal of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, 1, 11-18.

Tjendra, Jeffrey. (2018). Systems Thinking is the New Design Thinking. Retrieved from

Published by Art Ocain

I am a DevOps advocate, not because I am a developer (I’m not), but because of the cultural shift it represents and the agility it gains. I am also a fan of the theory of constraints and applying constraint management to all areas of business: sales, finance, planning, billing, and all areas of operations. My speaking: I have done a lot of public speaking in my various roles over the years, including presentations at SBDC (Small Business Development Center) and Central PA Chamber of Commerce events as well as events that I have organized at MePush. My writing: I write a lot. Blog articles on the MePush site, press-releases for upcoming events to media contracts, posts on LinkedIn (, presentations on Slideshare (, posts on the Microsoft Tech Community, articles on Medium (, and posts on Quora ( I am always looking for new places to write, as well. My certifications: ISACA Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), Certified Web Application Security Professional (CWASP), Certified Data Privacy Practitioner (CDPP), Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA), VMware Certified Professional (VCP-DCV), Microsoft Certified System Engineer (MCSE), Veeam Certified Engineer (VMCE), Microsoft 365 Security Administrator, Microsoft 365 Enterprise Administrator, Azure Administrator, Azure Security Administrator, Azure Architect, CompTIA Network+, CompTIA Security+, ITIL v4 Foundations, Certified ScrumMaster, Certified Scrum Product Owner, AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner See certification badges on Acclaim here: My experience: I have a lot of experience from developing a great company with great people and culture to spinning up an impressive DevOps practice and designing impressive solutions. I have been a project manager, a President, a COO, a CTO, and an incident response coordinator. From architecting cloud solutions down to the nitty-gritty of replacing hardware, I have done it all. When it comes to technical leadership, I am the go-to for many companies. I have grown businesses and built brands. I have been a coach and a mentor, developing the skills and careers of those in my company. I have formed and managed teams, and developed strong leaders and replaced myself within the company time and again as I evolved. See my experience on LinkedIn here:

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