In previous blogs we have discussed how the development of the 7S Framework, by McKinsey consultants Thomas J Peters and Robert H Waterman, was a seminal moment in the history of change management and organisational effectiveness (see our blog on McKinsey’s 7S Framework).
Helping businesses and organisations to implement improvements and achieve goals, the 7S Framework maps out the relationship between three “hard” elements (Strategy, Systems and Structure) and four “soft” elements (Staff, Skills, Style and Shared Values).
Having tackled Strategy (see our blog on McKinsey’s 7S Framework: Strategy), we are now looking at Systems.
How are Systems defined within the Framework?
Systems are the procedures, processes and activities carried out by staff in order to achieve the work that needs to be done. They can relate to anything from financial systems to information gathering and appraisals, as well as the technical platforms required for the systems to run smoothly.
Some systems, for example raising quotes and invoicing, will directly affect customers.
How do systems relate to the other elements of the 7S Framework?
In the 7S Framework, the three “hard” and four “soft” elements are all inter-related. They can be examined in pairs or in groups, but the most successful businesses will ensure that all seven factors are in alignment.
Establishing effective Systems
Having strong systems in place will have a positive impact on the effectiveness and efficiency of a company and allow organisations to implement their strategies.
Innovation in business practice and investment in new technology can improve the effectiveness of systems and speed up decision making.
Once a system is set up, controls should be put in place to monitor how well it is working. Adjustments can then be made, with reference to how the system is operating in relation to the other six elements of the 7S Framework.
An effective system should have a positive impact on the working life of employees, as well as the customer experience and the overall success of the organisation.
A system can be improved by using the 7S Framework to look at:
- How efficient a system is for staff to use
- How user-friendly it is for customers
- Which elements of a system are working and which require changing or replacing
- Whether there are any new developments or technologies that could be harnessed to improve on the current system
As with any plans for developing a business, changes to systems should be carefully thought out and discussed before their implementation.
The 7S Framework provides a useful model for achieving this, as it allows a business to look at the systems currently in place in tandem with the other six elements of the model, rather than considering them in isolation. This provides a more holistic picture and should lead to better decision making – and better results in the long run.
Further elements of McKinsey’s 7S Framework will feature in future blogs.