How To Use The 7S Model

The 7S Model was developed in the 1980s and is still valuable as a management model today.

It can be used in situations where you are trying to align various aspects of your business, especially where you are going through rapid and uncertain change.

Developed by the McKinsey Group, the 7S model involves seven factors which can be categorised as either “hard” or “soft” elements:

Hard Elements would include your strategy for change, the structure of the organisation and the systems you use.

Soft elements would be the shared values that you and your team employ, the skill-sets that you need, the style you adopt and the knowledge and abilities of your staff

“Hard” elements can be identified and influenced more easily: They would be driven by the organisation charts and reporting lines within the business and they may include the systems you use to get work done.

“Soft” elements are, by their very nature, more difficult to manage and may be affected by the culture of the organisation. But you have to apply yourself to these as much as the hard elements, as they provide the support structure for the successful implementation of any change, and they are all interdependent on each other.

You need to ask yourself where you are now and where you want to be in the future. The model will help you assess these elements with these searching questions:


* What is our strategy, in real terms?

* What are our strategic objectives?

* What will we do about the competition?

* What will our customers demand from us in the future?


* How is the company set up?

* What is the organisational structure?

* How do the teams work together to achieve goals?

* How do the team members work together?

* What is the quality of communication?


* What are the main systems we use in the company?

* How do we monitor and measure the systems?

* What processes do we currently use?

Shared Values:

* What are the values we keep to within the business?

* What is the corporate culture?

* What is the strength of these values?

* How are we communicating those values?


* What style does the management team adopt?

* How effective is it?

* How would we rate the teamwork among our staff?


* How do our teams specialise in their roles or are they more general in their responsibilities?

* Have we the right people in the right places?

* What development do they need?


* What are the strongest skills we have in the company?

* What skill gaps are there?

* Do we have staff who can do the job competently?

* How do we measure and reward success?

The McKinsey 7Ss model can be applied to almost any issue at work. If there are any inconsistencies in some of the above elements, maybe your team or company isn’t working effectively enough. The model can help reveal these inconsistencies, and you can work to ensure these elements are matched up to help you share values and objectives with your teams that are responsible for making it happen.

Thanks again


Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   

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Updated on: 4 October, 2010

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