McKinsey 7S Framework

The McKinsey 7S Framework is a model developed by consultants Robert H. Waterman, Jr. and Tom Peters (who also developed the MBWA– “Management By Walking Around” motif and authored In Search of Excellence) in the 1980s. This was a strategic vision for , including businesses, business units, and teams. The 7 S's are structure, , systems, skills, style, and shared values. The model is most often used as an organizational tool to assess and monitor in the internal situation of an .

The model is based on the theory that these seven elements need to be aligned and mutually reinforcing for an to perform well. So, the model can help identify what needs to be realigned to improve performance or 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.

The model's basic premise is that there are seven internal aspects of an organization that need to be aligned to succeed.

Hard Elements 7S

Strategy – Strategy is the set of actions that a firm plans in response or anticipation of changes to its external . These actions allow a firm to improve its competitive positioning. Purpose of the business and the way the organization seeks to enhance its competitive advantage.

  • Structure – Structure allows the firm to focus on important areas for its evolution. This includes division of activities, integration, and coordination mechanisms.
  • Systems – These include formal and informal for measurement, reward and resource allocation.

Soft Elements 7S

Shared Values define the firm's key beliefs and aspirations that form the core of its corporate .

  • Skills – The organization's core competencies and distinctive capabilities. It is argued that old skills can often act as a hindrance to developing new skills.
  • Staff – Staff considers people a pool of resources that need to be nurtured, developed, guarded, and allocated. It includes the organization's human resources, demographic, educational and attitudinal characteristics.
  • Style – Typical behaviour patterns of key groups, such as CEOs, managers, and other professionals.


  • Waterman Jr, R. H. (1982). The seven elements of strategic fit. The Journal of Business Strategy2(3), 69.
  • Peters, T., & Waterman Jr, R. H. (2011). McKinsey 7-S model. Leadership Excellence28(10), 2011.
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