McKinsey’s 7S Framework provides a useful structure for organisations of all sizes when planning specific projects, managing change and looking to improve the way their company is run on a daily basis.
The framework first appeared as a concept in Thomas J Peters and Robert H Waterman’s book In Search of Excellence and is named after the company where the two men worked as consultants.
The seven factors that feature in the framework are split into “hard” and “soft” elements:
Hard elements: Strategy, Systems and Structure
Soft elements: Style, Staff, Skills and Shared Values
Our blog today looks at the last of these: Shared Values.
How are Shared Values defined within the Framework?
Shared Values are in evidence in the culture and ethics of an organisation. They can often be found in the aims and objectives or mission statement of a company when it is first established, but can also develop over time as the organisation evolves.
The strength of a company’s Shared Values can affect the whole culture of how it is run, from decisions on which products and services to offer to the way staff act and are treated by management.
How do Shared Values relate to the other elements of the 7S Framework?
Shared Values relate to the other elements as follows:
Strategy – does the organisation’s strategy reflect its shared values?
Structure – are the shared values of the company found across its structure?
Systems – have the organisation’s systems been developed with its shared values in mind?
Style – as this represents the approach taken by organisational leaders, this links very closely with shared values
Staff – are staff aware of the organisation’s shared values and do they support these values in their decision making and actions?
Skills – do staff have the skills to follow and promote the organisational shared values in the work they do?
Establishing effective Shared Values
To establish Shared Values, an organisation should consider why it exists and what it wants to achieve.
Questions to ask could include:
- What are the key values that the organisation would like to uphold?
- How can these values support the company’s success in the marketplace and help it achieve its goals?
- How can these values be communicated to staff, suppliers, clients etc?
- Are there any conflicts between the Shared Values and the approach taken by management and staff?
Shared Values may begin as a fixed set of aims and objectives, but it is important that they evolve over time. The Shared Values that are relevant when an organisation is first established may not be appropriate for when it grows from a start-up to employing hundreds of people with clients across the globe. However, some Shared Values – such as providing excellent customer service – may remain important within a company, whatever its size.
Shared Values can encapsulate the heart and soul of an organisation, from how it operates to the people it employs and works with. They can make it stand out from the competition, even if they are selling exactly the same products and services.
For this reason, it’s advisable do dedicate some time to establishing and outlining organisational Shared Values – and to update them to reflect internal and external changes that will affect the way that the company operates.