In marketing, we understand that each element of our strategy should work together to complement one another in order to reach our set goals. But should we be taking a broader look into how the components within the organisation can be reviewed and realigned to achieve continued success?

McKinsey’s 7S model identifies seven key components within an organisation that need to be aligned for success: 

Structure 

How people are organised into functions or teams and the hierarchy that manages how work is distributed and carried out.  

Strategy

The broad approach or plan of action for building a competitive advantage.

Systems

The procedures that support how the company operates on a day-to-day basis – from planning and measurement of marketing activities, to the collection, usage and management of data, to producing products. 

Skills

The competence of the work force and their capabilities in areas relevant to the business that they operate.

Staff

The number and availability of staff including the approach to staffing – for example utilising freelancers and temporary staff where necessary and outsourcing functions.

Style

The style of management within the organisation and the impact of this on empowering staff, fostering new ideas and approaches and supporting change.

Shared Values

The culture of the business which is largely directed by its mission and values. 

The combined impact of Mckinsey’s 7S model

Mckinsey’s 7S model considers not just ‘hard’ more formal factors that are documented such as a company’s structure, strategy and the systems that form the backbone of the business, but also the ‘soft’ less tangible factors such as skills, staff, management style and shared values that are equally important. Each of these components are interconnected which is demonstrated in the visual of the model below. It is the combined result of these 7S’s that form the way the organisation is managed and functions. 

What is the value of the model? 

The clear holistic view that the Mckinsey’s 7S model gives of how an organisation operates, means it can be used as a framework to analyse the internal environment as part of a wider audit. Through analysis of each of the seven areas within the company in turn, weaknesses within can be identified and plans for improvement can be made. It can also help us implement change within the organisation – so if we want to digitally transform for example, or become more customer-focused, we can pinpoint which areas in the organisation need to change to support this. 

As each ‘S’ is also interconnected, the model can be used to consider the impact of any potential changes in one area that may impact another. For example, a change in structure may impact the staff needed, the skills required and the systems to support the change and so all of the others areas need to be considered so that they too can be realigned. 

Summary

Mckinsey’s 7S model provides an insight into the inner workings of the organisation, and a practical tool for analysing the internal environment and building on it to align all of these essential components for success. 

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The post was written by Alicia Allen. Alicia is a lecturer, tutor and apprenticeship trainer for the Oxford College of Marketing. Alicia teaches and supports marketing professionals who are studying for CIM qualifications