McKinsey 7s Model, How to Use Its 7 Elements for Success

Fri, 04/25/2014 - 01:56 -- Gulzar Ahmed


McKinsey 7s Model is a tool designed for the purpose of examining the structural layout of a particular company or business through considering 7 important internal components, namely strategy, structure, systems, shared values, style, staff and finally skills. The reason behind carrying out such process is to make sure that these components are efficiently aligned together, therefore making possible for organization to fulfill its goals.

Comprehending the Organizational Tool

The McKinsey 7s Framework was developed in 1980s by two famous business consultants namely Tom Peter and Robert H. Waterman with assistance from Richard Pascal and Anthony G. Athos. The tool has extensively been employed by academics and partitions since its beginning. However, it has been deemed to be one of the most well-known tools used for strategic planning. It attempts to place too much attention on human resources as an essential aspect to boost the organizational performance of firms. The ultimate objective of this tool is demonstrating how the 7 internal elements, which have been mentioned earlier, can be aligned together to reach efficiency in an organization. Moreover, the model is based on the premise that all these are interwoven. Thus, any alteration to one factors needs alteration to the rest of an organization so as to operate successfully and perform well.

The visual representation of the McKinsey Model is shown in figure 1 below in which the clear interconnection between these seven elements is demonstrated along with a categorization of being either ‘Soft Ss’ or ‘Hard Ss’. The model’s structure stresses the interdependence of the elements.


  1. To boost the productivity and performance of the company
  2. To help organizational change within a company
  3. To help put a proposed strategy into effect
  4. To assist in the combination of companies

The Seven Interconnected Elements

The McKinsey Model includes seven interconnected elements which fall into two categories, namely ‘hard’ and ‘soft’.

 Hard Elements include

  1. Strategy
  2. Structure
  3. Systems

Soft Elements include

  1. Shared Values
  2. Skills
  3. Style
  4. Staff

Figure 1: The McKinsey 7S Model

mckinsey 7s model

As you can see from the representation shown above, the hard elements include strategy, structure and systems, whereas the soft ones contain shared skills, values, style and staff. The hard one are easy to define and are affected by management. Conversely, the soft elements, even though hard to manage, are less concrete and more affected by culture. However, the soft elements are as important as the hard if the organization wants to operate successfully and perform well. Now, let’s take up each element in turn as we proceed.

Strategy is a detailed plan devised by a particular company for achieving success and maintaining a highly competitive advantage over the competition. Basically, a good strategy should be well-aligned and expressed as well as should assist in sustaining competitive advantage so as to be deemed good and effective. However, it is pretty hard to judge whether a certain strategy is well-aligned or not, especially when examined all by itself and this is where McKinsey 7s Model comes in handy. Thus, it is not designed to look at its 7S’s separately but to look whether they are aligned together or not. For instance, a short-term strategy is deemed a bad option for a certain organization. However, being aligned with the other six factor would probably yield the desired results.

Structure refers to the way in which the parts of a particular company are arranged and organized and who is responsible to whom.

Systems are the everyday activities and processes of the firm which the employees take part in to finish the job. The systems should be the manager’s centerpiece throughout organizational switch.

Shared Values are placed in the middle of the model to stress the fact that these values are essential for the evolvement of all the other important six points. These shared values were referred to as super ordinate goals when the model was first devised. They are the norms and standards which direct the staff members’ behavior as well as the firm’s actions. Thus, they are deemed to be the basis for every organization.

Skills are the actual skills, abilities and competencies that staff members perform well.

Style is the way in which the firm is administered by the peak executives. To put it bluntly, it is embraced style of leadership.

Staff people with general abilities who work for a particular company. This element takes notice of the kind and number of employees the firm will employ, the way with which they can be motivated and what kind of training they will receive.

How To Use McKinsey 7s Model for Business Success?

You should always bear in mind that when it comes to organizational design and effectiveness, the 7s framework comes in handy. As we mentioned earlier, the model is based on the premise that all these seven elements are interwoven and therefore should be aligned together to reach efficiency in an organization. Thus, the model can be employed to assist in the recognition of what requires to be rearranged and aligned to boost organizational performance or to keep alignment throughout other kinds of change, including creating new processes and procedures, organizational combination, reorganization, adopting new systems, leadership change among many other things. The model can be used to comprehend the way in which the organizational elements are interconnected, making sure that the extensive influence of changes made in one aspect is taken into account.

Moreover, this tool can also be used to assist in the analysis of present situations (Point A), a suggested upcoming situation (Point B) and to specify the differences and discrepancies between them.  Now it is just a matter of adapting and changing the element of the model to make sure that your firm operates well and successfully as soon as you achieve the desirable results. Additionally, the model can be used to decide the most effective organizational design you want to reach. By determining the desirable alignment you establish your objectives and make the plan of your actions much easier. It sounds simple but it not because you need to carry out extensive research to figure out the ways in which other identical companies dealt successfully with organizational change along with finding out the kinds of organizational design they are making use of. In fact, there are plenty of books and methodologies devoted to the analysis of organizational strategy, performance improvement and management change. Last but not least, it goes without saying that the McKinsey 7s Framework is a good strategic tool which will assist you to find answers for your questions. However, it will not prove you with all the answers. For that reason, you are required to bring the appropriate knowledge together with the right skills and experience.