Mckinsey’s 7S Framework

The Mckinsey’s 7S Framework suggests that there is a multiplicity of factors that influence an organization’s ability to change and its proper mode of change. Because of the interconnections of the variables, it would be difficult to make significant progress in one area without making progress in the others as well. There is no starting point or implied hierarchy in the shape of the diagram, and it is not obvious which of the seven factors would be the driving force in changing a particular organization at a certain point of time. The critical variables would be different across organizations and in the same organizations at different points of time.


The 7S Framework was first mentioned in “The Art Of Japanese Management” by Richard Pascale and Anthony Athos in 1981. They had been investigating how Japanese industry had been so successful. At around the same time that Tom Peters and Robert Waterman were exploring what made a company excellent. The Seven S model was born at a meeting of these four authors in 1978. It appeared also in “In Search of Excellence” by Peters and Waterman, and was taken up as a basic tool by the global management consultancy company McKinsey. Since then it is known as Mckinsey’s 7S Framework.

Seven Levels of Mckinsey’s 7S Framework

The Mckinsey’s 7S Framework is a management model that describes seven factors to organize a company in a holistic and effective way. Together these factors determine the way in which a corporation operates. Managers should take into account all seven of these factors, to be sure of successful implementation of a strategy.

The Mckinsey’s 7S Framework involves seven interdependent factors which are categorized as either “hard” or “soft” elements:

Hard ElementsSoft Elements
  1. Strategy
  2. Structure
  3. Systems
  1. Shared Values
  2. Skills
  3. Style
  4. Staff

Hard elements are feasible and easy to define or identify in an organization as they are normally well documented and seen in the form of tangible objects or reports such as strategy statements, corporate plans, organizational charts and other documents, and the management can directly influence them.

Soft elements, on the other hand, can be more difficult to comprehend, and are less tangible and more influenced by culture. However, these soft elements are as important as the hard elements if the organization is going to be successful.

  1. Strategy – are the fundamental ideas around which a business is built.
  2. Structure – salient features of the units’s organizational chart and inter connections within the office.
  3. Systems – procedures and routine processes, including how information moves around the unit.
  4. Staff – personnel categories within the unit and the use to which staff are put, skill base, etc.
  5. Style – characterization of how key managers behave in order to achieve the unit’s goals.
  6. Shared Values – the significant meanings or guiding concepts that the unit imbues on its members.
  7. Skills – distinctive capabilities of key personnel and the unit as a whole.

McKinsey's 7S Framework

Placing Shared Values in the middle of the Mckinsey’s 7S Framework emphasizes that these values are central to the development of all the other critical elements. The company’s structure, strategy, systems, style, staff and skills all stem from why the organization was originally created, and what it stands for. The original vision of the company was formed from the values of the creators. As the values change, so do all the other elements.

The Mckinsey’s 7S Framework can be used in two ways;

  1. Considering the links between each of the S’s one can identify strengths and weaknesses of an organization. No S is strength or a weakness in its own right, it is only its degree of support, or otherwise, for the other S’s which is relevant. Any S’s that harmonizes with all the other S’s can be thought of as strength and weaknesses
  2. The model highlights how a change made in any one of the S’s will have an impact on all the others. Thus if a planned change is to be effective, then changes in one S must be accompanied by complementary changes in the others.

Mckinsey’s 7S Framework is most often used as a tool to assess and monitor changes in the internal situation of an organisation. The model is based on the theory that, for an organization to perform well, these seven elements need to be aligned and mutually reinforcing. So, the model can be used to help identify what needs to be realigned to improve performance, or to maintain alignment (and performance) during other types of change. Whatever the type of change – restructuring, new processes, organizational merger, new systems, change of leadership, and so on – the model can be used to understand how the organizational elements are interrelated, and so ensure that the wider impact of changes made in one area is taken into consideration.

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