The Mckinsey 7s framework – Use it effectively

The model is not that much in use lately or may be I have not seen it being used by many HR professionals. This is one of those models using which one can get good results. Let’s see what the 7s means:

  • Strategy: the plan devised to maintain and build competitive advantage over the competition.
  • Structure: the way the organization is structured and who reports to whom.
  • Systems: the daily activities and procedures that staff members engage in to get the job done.
  • Shared Values: called “superordinate goals” when the model was first developed, these are the core values of the company that are evidenced in the corporate culture and the general work ethic.
  • Style: the style of leadership adopted.
  • Staff: the employees and their general capabilities.
  • Skills: the actual skills and competencies of the employees working for the company.

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.

It’s then a question of adjusting and tuning the elements of the 7S model to ensure that your organization works effectively and well once you reach the desired endpoint.

Changing your organization probably will not be simple at all! Whole books and methodologies are dedicated to analyzing organizational strategy, improving performance and managing change. The 7S model is a good framework to help you ask the right questions – but it won’t give you all the answers. For that you’ll need to bring together the right knowledge, skills and experience.

7S Checklist Questions

Here are some of the questions that you’ll need to explore to help you understand your situation in terms of the 7S framework.


  • What is our strategy?
  • How do we intend to achieve our objectives?
  • How do we deal with competitive pressure?
  • How are changes in customer demands dealt with?
  • How is strategy adjusted for environmental issues?


  • How is the company/team divided?
  • What is the hierarchy?
  • How do the various departments coordinate activities?
  • How do the team members organize and align themselves?
  • Is decision making and controlling centralized or decentralized? Is this as it should be, given what we’re doing?
  • Where are the lines of communication? Explicit and implicit?


  • What are the main systems that run the organization? Consider financial and HR systems as well as communications and document storage.
  • Where are the controls and how are they monitored and evaluated?
  • What internal rules and processes does the team use to keep on track?

Shared Values:

  • What are the core values?
  • What is the corporate/team culture?
  • How strong are the values?
  • What are the fundamental values that the company/team was built on?


  • How participative is the management/leadership style?
  • How effective is that leadership?
  • Do employees/team members tend to be competitive or cooperative?
  • Are there real teams functioning within the organization or are they just nominal groups?


  • What positions or specializations are represented within the team?
  • What positions need to be filled?
  • Are there gaps in required competencies?


  • What are the strongest skills represented within the company/team?
  • Are there any skills gaps?
  • What is the company/team known for doing well?
  • Do the current employees/team members have the ability to do the job?
  • How are skills monitored and assessed?

Utilising these 7S model effectively is a challenge that too in various situations as it requires special skills and knowledge to work upon and make the changes as vital as possible to optimize the utilization of the model.