The efficiency of thermoelectric technology today is limited by the properties of available thermoelectric materials and a wide variety of new approaches to developing better materials have recently been suggested. The key goal is to find a material with a large ZT, the dimensionless thermoelectric figure of merit. However, if an analogy is drawn between thermoelectric technology and gas-cycle engines then selecting different materials for the thermoelements is analogous to selecting a different working gas for the mechanical engine. And an attempt to improve ZT is analogous to an attempt to improve certain thermodynamic properties of the working-gas. An alternative approach is to focus on the thermoelectric process itself (rather than on ZT), which is analogous to considering alternate cycles such as Stirling vs. Brayton vs. Rankine etc., rather than merely considering alternative gases. Focusing on the process is a radically different approach compared to previous studies focusing on ZT. Aspects of the thermoelectric process and alternative approaches to efficient thermoelectric conversion are discussed.