What Is the McKinsey 7-S Framework?

The McKinsey 7-S framework is a management tool developed by two former McKinsey & Company consultants to make decisions and solve organizational problems. The foundation of the framework is seven words starting with “S”: strategy, structure, systems, skills, shared values, staff and style, according to the official McKinsey & Company website.

The 7-S framework first appeared in a book called “In Search of Excellence” by Thomas J. Peters and Robert H. Waterman in the late 1970s. Although businesses traditionally relied on organizational structure to make decisions and solve problems, this became challenging for large-scale organizations at the time of the book’s publication. Instead of structure, the 7-S framework relies on coordination. The interaction between the seven S’s can help managers make decisions and solve problems.

The 7-S framework has a number of benefits. It serves as a solid, holistic diagnostic tool for facing organizational problems and issues. Because of this, it can help businesses effectively deal with change. It also approaches issues and decisions from several different directions. Managers must consider all seven components in order to effectively use the framework. Because there are so many parts to the framework, it has both a rational and emotional approach.

However, the framework also has some disadvantages. Because the framework relies on all seven components, it is complicated. If one part of the organization changes, then managers must restart the analysis from scratch, as all of the other parts also change.