The 7S Framework

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Explanation of the 7-S Model of McKinsey.

What is the  7-S Framework? Description

The 7-S Framework of McKinsey is a management model that describes 7 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. Large or small. They're all interdependent, so if you fail to pay proper attention to one of them, this may effect all others as well. On top of that, the relative importance of each factor may vary over time.

Origin of the 7-S Framework. History

The 7-S Framework was first mentioned in the journal "Business Horizons" in an article "Structure Is Not Organization" by Robert H. Waterman, Thomas J. Peters and Julien R. Phillips in June 1980. 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 their 7-S model.

The meaning of the 7 Ss


McKinsey 7-S frameworkSuperordinate Goals (also called Shared Values).

The interconnecting center of McKinsey's model is: Superordinate Goals (Shared Values). This term includes higher elevation concepts of what an organization wants to achieve, stands for and what it believes in: purpose, vision, mission, shared values, central beliefs and attitudes. Compare: Strategic Intent


Plans for the allocation of a firms scarce resources, over time, to reach identified goals. Environment, competition, customers.


The way in which the organization's units relate to each other: centralized, functional divisions (top-down); decentralized; a matrix, a network, a holding, etc.


The procedures, processes and routines that characterize how the work should be done: financial systems; recruiting, promotion and performance appraisal systems; information systems.


Numbers and types of personnel within the organization.


Cultural style of the organization and how key managers behave in achieving the organization's goals. Compare: Management Styles.


Distinctive capabilities of personnel or of the organization as a whole. Compare: Core Competences.

Strengths of the 7-S Model. Benefits

  • Diagnostic tool for understanding organizations that are ineffective.
  • Guides organizational change.
  • Combines rational and hard elements with emotional and soft elements.
  • Managers must act on all Ss in parallel and all Ss are interrelated.

Book: Ethan M. Rasiel, Paul N. Friga - The McKinsey Mind: Understanding and Implementing the Problem Solving Tools and Management Techniques -

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Resources - 7-S Framework

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Original Article Introducing the 7S Framework

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Compare with the 7-S Framework: Causal Model of Organizational Performance and Change  |  Ashridge Mission Model  |  Strategic Alignment  |  McKinsey Matrix

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