Everything is a process. Even getting up in the morning and finding your way to work is a process. There are steps involved with inputs and outputs. Many of these steps are sequential; you finish one step before you start the next. One step in this process is putting on your socks and this is done before you put on your shoes.
Those of us fortunate enough to be employed own the process of getting up and making our way to work. We have worked this process over and over and found ways to eliminate those obvious sources of process variation. We have it figured out. We take it for granted since it's not all that complex and we get repeatable results, day after day.
Processes internal to organizations, however, can be quite complex. No matter the size or type, whether it produces product or services, all organizations are systems of interrelated processes where the output of one process invariably becomes the input to another process. And like the process of getting to work in the morning that we each own, processes internal to organizations also have owners. These owners are responsible for managing, monitoring, measuring, and continually improving their processes.
This focus on process improvement is a holistic approach to improving organizations. Holistic improvement requires a wide variety of tools. It may also require that these tools be used in new or different ways. I have improved organizations through the practical application and use of the organization's quality policy, quality objectives, audit results, analysis of data, corrective and preventive action, and management review. I personalize this improvement approach with a proprietary mix of simple quality tools, Six-Sigma concepts, and Baldrige Criteria.
Treating the whole organization with a holistic approach to quality improvement will increase the likelihood of success and long-lasting results. Surgically improving the organization here and there will likely result in failure.