The Pillars of Sustainability

Empower passionate people to deliver quality products

by Jessen Yeoh

The three Ps of sustainable development are people, planet and profit. Organizations can use ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 45001 to achieve a balance among these pillars as a way to meet their needs without compromising their social responsibilities (see Online Figure 1).

Online Figure 1

Today, many organizations implement a quality, health, safety and environment integrated management system (IMS) to attain sustainable development. In addition to the three Ps of sustainable development, organizations also should apply these additional seven Ps to enhance the integration of management system requirements into business processes:1

  1. Purpose. Organization leaders must establish unity of purpose and direction to align the organization’s strategies, policies, processes and resources to achieve its objectives. Thus, leaders at all levels should communicate the organization’s mission, vision, strategy, policies and values throughout the organization to create conditions in which people are engaged in achieving business objectives.2
  2. Passion. To achieve intended business results, the organization needs not only competent people, but also passionate people. Organizational performance depends on how people behave in the system in which they work.3 Competent, empowered and engaged people (in other words, passionate people) are essential to creating and delivering value to customers. Hence, it is important to respect and involve all people at all levels in the IMS.4
  3. Process. Determine the processes required for the IMS, as well as their application throughout the organization.5 Consistent and predictable results can be achieved more effectively and efficiently when activities are understood and managed as interrelated processes.6
  4. Product. Clearly define product requirements, and implement production and service provisions under controlled conditions. Furthermore, implement planned arrangements to verify that product requirements have been met before it’s released to customers.7
  5. Partner. Evaluate, select and re-evaluate business partners, and ensure that externally provided processes, products and services conform to requirements.8 Moreover, determine the environmental requirements for product and service procurement, and communicate those requirements to business partners.9
  6. Protect. Protect employees by providing a safe and healthy workplace. ISO 45001 provides a framework for organizations that want to improve their occupational health and safety, eliminate hazards and minimize occupational health and safety (OH&S) risks; and take advantage of OH&S opportunities.10
  7. Performance. Top management must ensure the IMS achieves its intended results.11 The performance and effectiveness of the IMS and its processes must be evaluated at planned intervals. If necessary, implement changes to the processes so they achieve their intended results.12

Creating passionate people

A sustainable organization shouldn’t overwork its people and exploit the environment to attain profits. Instead, to cultivate a corporate culture that can develop competent and passionate people, organization leaders must communicate clearly the organization’s purpose. If equipped with effective and efficient processes, passionate people will be empowered to deliver high quality products.


  1. International Organization for Standardization (ISO), ISO 9001—Quality management systems—Requirements, clause 5.
  2. ISO, ISO 9000:2015—Quality management systems—Fundamentals and vocabulary, clause 2.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid, clause 4.
  6. Ibid, clause 2.
  7. Ibid, clause 8
  8. Ibid.
  9. ISO, ISO 14001:2015—Environmental management systems—Requirements with guidance for use, clause 8.
  10. ISO, ISO 45001:2018—Occupational health and safety management systems—Requirements with guidance for use, clause 1.
  11. ISO, ISO 9001—Quality management systems—Requirements, see reference 1.
  12. Ibid, clause 4.

Jessen Yeoh is a performance excellence assessor, coach and trainer based in Melbourne, Australia. A senior member of ASQ, Yeoh is an ASQ-certified quality manager. He also is a lean Sigma Black Belt, lean sensei, TRIZ practitioner, and a principal auditor of the International Register of Certificated Auditors for quality management systems, environmental management systems and occupational health and safety management systems.

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