McKinsey’s 7S Framework – the subject of this blog – is a tool that can help companies and other organsations to improve their performance, manage change and plan for the future.
Comprising seven interdependent elements, the model can be applied to a whole business or a specific project.
What are the 7Ss?
The 7Ss are divided into:
3 x “hard” elements, which are relatively easy to define and influence:
How a company plans for and responds to the environment it operates in and the competition it faces.
How tasks, staff and hierarchies are set up within a company.
The procedures in place to achieve what needs to be done.
4 x “soft” elements, which often get overlooked:
The overall competencies of those employed.
The specific skills within the company.
The approach taken by those in leadership positions.
The core values from corporate culture to work ethic.
The key to the successful implementation of McKinsey’s 7S Framework lies with an organisation’s ability to align all of these seven interconnected variables. When this business model is represented as an illustration, Shared Values are usually placed in the centre, as they tend to affect all of the other factors.
Who created the 7S Framework?
Two consultants, Tom Peters and Robert H Waterman, working at global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, carried out research in the 1970s that led to the publication of their 1982 book In Search of Excellence. This set out the principles of the 7S model.
This research began by examining strategy and structure, how they were related and how they influenced each other, but grew into a larger framework when the consultants observed that success is the result of several interconnected factors.
How can McKinsey’s 7S Framework help a company succeed?
The consultants who devised the model believed that successful organisations are those that incorporate all seven factors into their strategic planning. In particular, the “soft” elements are often overlooked.
Because no organisation exists in a vacuum, the Framework takes into account the external business environment and how it might change.
If a company is experiencing problems, whether on a small scale, for example within a department, or on a large scale, for example major issues with a competitor, the 7S Framework provides a structure for identifying inconsistencies between the seven elements and working out how to align them in order to develop the best strategy for moving forward.
When is the 7S Framework used?
As well as everyday planning, McKinsey’s 7S Framework can be used to help a company to:
- Introduce new systems
- Carry out a restructure
- Deal with leadership/management changes
- Handle mergers and acquisitions
The 7S Framework is a useful tool to help a company compete in the marketplace, plan future activities and grow as an organisation. A watershed model, it has remained popular since its introduction and is used by businesses worldwide.
In future blogs, we will be looking at each of the seven factors in more detail.
Other models you may find useful:
Porter 5 Forces