DEFINITION of McKinsey 7S Model

The McKinsey 7S Model is a framework for organizational effectiveness that postulates that there are seven internal factors of an organization that need to be aligned and reinforced in order for it to be successful. The 7S Model was developed at  consulting firm McKinsey & Co. in the early 1980s by consultants Tom Peters and Robert Waterman, authors of the management bestseller In Search of Excellence.


The 7S Model specifies seven factors that are classified into "hard" and "soft" elements. Hard elements are easily identified and influenced by management, while soft elements are fuzzier, more intangible and influenced by corporate culture. The hard elements are as follows:

  • Strategy
  • Structure
  • Systems

The soft elements are as follows:

  • Shared values
  • Skills
  • Style
  • Staff

The framework is used as a strategic planning tool by organizations to show how seemingly disparate aspects of a company are, in fact, interrelated and reliant upon one another to achieve overall success.

The Seven Factors of the 7S Model

The strategy is the plan deployed by an organization in order to remain competitive in its industry and market. An ideal approach is to establish a long-term strategy that aligns with the other elements of the model, and clearly communicates what the organization’s objective and goals are.

The structure of the organization is made up of its corporate hierarchy, chain of command, and divisional makeup that outlines how the operations function and interconnect. In effect, it details the management configuration and responsibilities of workers.

Systems of the company refer to the daily procedures, workflow, and decisions that make up the standard operations within the organization.

Shared values are the commonly accepted standards and norms within the company that influence and temper the behavior of the entire staff and management. This may be detailed in company guidelines presented to the staff. In practice, shared values relate to the actual accepted behavior within the workplace.

Skills comprise the talents and capabilities of the organization’s staff and management, which can determine the types of achievements and work the company can accomplish. There may come a time when a company assesses its available skills and decides it must make changes in order to achieve the goals set forth in its strategy.

Style speaks to the example and approach that management takes in leading the company, as well as how this influences performance, productivity, and corporate culture.

Staff refers to the personnel of the company, how large the workforce is, where their motivations reside, as well as how they are trained and prepared to accomplish the tasks set before them.