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The Mckinsey 7S Framework




In recent years, the 7S framework for management analysis developed by the respected consulting firm of Mckinsey & Company has gained in popularity. The Mckinsey’s 7S framework essentially looks at seven elements of an organization that must be understood when seeking to work out how it works and how to bring about any sort of change in the organization. These are: -

These seven elements play a significant role in any organization and the Mckinsey 7S framework gives an insight into the integration of these significant elements. The outstanding feature of the 7S framework is that it has been tested extensively by Mckinsey consultants in their studies of many companies. At the same time this framework has been used by respected business schools such as Harvard and Stanford. Thus, theory and practice seem to support each other in the study of management.




"Style" refers to the management style or the leadership style that is followed by the superiors in an organization to carry out different activities in the organization. Style is basically the way the management behaves and collectively spends it’s time to achieve organizational goals. There are a lot of different management and leadership styles in use but the most popular ones are: -




In an organization, "systems" refer to the procedures and processes such as information systems, manufacturing processes, budgeting and control processes. When taking into consideration the systems of any organization, things such as the customization of the systems, tailoring those systems to individual managers, the setting up of objectives for those systems, economizing those systems, the flexibility of the systems and blending those systems into the organizational environment, come into any manager’s mind.

It is these elements of concern associated with the Systems of the organization that Mckinsey consultants have included this issue of Systems of the organization into their framework.




The term "Staff" refers to the people in the organization and their socialization into the organizational culture. This includes Staffing that is the filling, and keeping filled, positions in the organizational structure through identifying work-force requirements, recruiting, selecting, placing, promoting, appraising, planning the careers, compensating, and training or otherwise developing both candidates and current job holders to accomplish their tasks effectively and efficiently. Plus this also implies towards the chosen culture of the organization, and the selection of employees according to that particular organizational culture and the fact that whether the employees have blended into and accepted the culture or not.




"Structure" is the organizational structure or the hierarchy of the organization that comprises of the authority and responsibility relationships in the firm. This function of the framework is concerned with the direction of delegation of authority, the organizational structures, whether Flat or Tall and the degree of Centralization or Decentralization. Structure is closely related to Staff as the size of the staff greatly impacts the type of structure that the organization has. It is also dependant upon the Style of management preferred by the superiors in the organization, as it is the preference of the top management that really matters in the real world on the type of organizational structure being applied.




The systematic actions and the allocation of resources to achieve the organizational objectives and aims is referred to as "Strategy". There are many predefined strategies but the management can effectively create some other strategy through the use of creative techniques like brainstorming or professional approach such as the Delphi Technique.



Shared vision

"Shared vision" or Super ordinate goals are the values held and shared by the members of an organization. By using the term Shared Values, the 7S theorists emphasize that goal statements are very important in determining the destiny of the organization; they also point out that the organization members must share values equally. Therefore, special attention is given to personal and organizational values in order to increase organizational effectiveness.




These are the distinctive capabilities of an organization. In traditional management literature the term "skills" refers to the personal skills (e.g. technical, human, conceptual) while in the 7S framework "skills" not only means this but it also points towards the capabilities of the organization as a whole.



Limitations of the 7S framework

Every model has its limitations, and the 7S is no exception. A major critique of McKinsey's 7S framework is to be found in Richard D'Aveni's book, HYPERCOMPETITION. The competitive environment is often moving so fast that the stability assumptions built into McKinsey's approach are dysfunctional, and that organizations need more speed, agility and capacity for coping with uncertainty to prosper. D'Aveni's "New 7S Framework" identifies Stakeholder Satisfaction, Strategic Soothsaying (good sense of where the world is going), Speed, capability to Surprise rivals, ability to Shift the Rules of competition, capable Signaling, and Simultaneous and Sequential Strategic Thrusts that create momentum and follow-on as the newer, more contemporary approaches that allow a competitor to contend with today's more competitive environments - or to render the environment more competitive, so as to catch the opposition flat-footed. D'Aveni's fundamental model is that strategic competition is war, and like it may include strategic alliances, but it's mostly all against all.

I think there is a risk of over-intellectualizing the issue. Part of the problem is that some people believe in the models / frameworks in an almost religiously fervent manner. The value of the models seems to be a mechanism to help think about the business and to evaluate weaknesses and opportunities. Too slavish an adherence to using the models at the operational level can result in an overly bureaucratic control system developing. 7S framework is helpful as a checklist, but no more.



This is what I've gathered and understood about the 7S Theory . . . if you know something more or different, do mail it to me:


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