McKinsey’s 7-S Framework

Would your project management office like to increase your effectiveness while organizing and performing projects? If your team is interested in setting new project management standards, then one management model you will want to understand is McKinsey’s 7-S Framework. This change management model is used to locate organizational problems, adopt new strategies for completing goals, improve performance, and align all business elements to achieve business interconnectedness.
As you can tell, the benefits you receive by studying and implementing the 7-S framework can benefit your company as a whole and, more specifically, improve the performance of your organization’s PMO. Here is the background information that you should know about the McKinsey 7s model and the steps you can take to incorporate these ideas into your own office.

Background on McKinsey’s 7-S framework

Here’s a brief history of McKinsey’s 7s model. In 1926, James O. McKinsey, professor of accounting at the University of Chicago, created a management consulting firm called McKinsey & Company. Decades later, in 1980, Robert H. Waterman, Jr., and Tom Peters, two of the business partners at the time, along with Julien Phillips authored a journal titled Structure Is Not Organization. This journal introduced the world to the McKinsey 7-S Framework and was written during a two-day retreat.

A couple of years after creating the journal, Waterman, and Peters extended their ideas further, by creating a book titled In Search of Excellence. This book popularized the McKinsey 7-S framework, especially in the United States, as it focused on successful American businesses instead of Japanese management practices that were popular to study at the time.

The Basis of the 7-S Framework

If you work in a company with a traditional organizational structure, then you likely have dedicated teams that focus on specific tasks individually to complete a project. However, if you ask any successful PMO person why their business succeeds, you will quickly understand that success is dependent on several factors besides an organization’s structure.
With that in mind, the 7-S framework argues that seven elements are crucial to the success of any business. And if these elements do not align, it will be challenging to implement organizational changes with any significant measure of success. So, what exactly are these seven business elements, and why are they so important?

The Hard Elements of the Mckinsey 7s model

The 7-S framework centers around three elements that businesses often focus on, referred to as hard elements. The hard elements are:

These are the aspects of a company that are tangible. They are relatively easy to define, measure and control.

The Soft Elements of the McKinsey 7s model

In addition to the hard elements are four soft elements. These organizational elements are intangible. They are more challenging to define and are often based on corporate culture. The soft elements are:
Seven Interconnected Elements crucial to achieving organizational effectiveness

Seven Interconnected Elements crucial to achieving organizational effectiveness

McKinsey 7-s Framework: A New View of Organization

McKinsey 7-s Framework: A New View of Organization (Robert H Waterman Jr. Thomas J. Peters and Julien R Phillips)

The interconnectedness is important. It is difficult to make significant progress in one area without making progress in other areas as well. Organizations in search of excellence must develop change strategies that boost operational effectiveness in each of the seven elements.
Although these factors are interconnected, the authors of the 7-S framework suggest that many essential organizational elements are not considered or analyzed in most companies while deciding how to improve performance. By codifying the model, Tom Peters and Robert Waterman emphasized the importance of assessing and developing capabilities in all seven areas. Here is a concise summary of each business element:

The Seven S’s of the McKinsey 7-S Framework

How to Utilize the McKinsey 7-S Framework in Your PMO

Now that you understand the fundamentals of McKinsey’s 7-S framework, it is time to discover how you can use this model with your organization and your PMO. There are two main steps to implementing this model, with the first step being a review of your business and the second involving an analysis of each 7-S element. Here is a simple step-by-step process for you to follow:
First, start by assessing each of the seven business elements, while looking for areas that are not aligned. By answering these questions, you will notice areas of consistency, conflicts, and gaps.







Superordinate Goals / Shared Values:

After locating the strengths and weaknesses you find in your organization by answering the above questions, it is time to make changes. Develop action plans to develop across the seven elements, taking care to focus on the soft elements as much as the hard. Check out some of our other Management Models to get some ideas on how to implement your change program.

In Conclusion

The McKinsey 7-S framework helps you increase the efficiency of your organization, and how your PMO supports it. By determining what your business does well in these seven elements, you can change your business practices to address commonly overlooked aspects of your organization. As time goes on, you will want to repeat the 7-S framework process. This will help your organization’s leaders and employees understand how much your business has changed and highlight areas of opportunity that your team members can improve in the future.

Other similar guides

Sign up for our newsletter!

Our newsletter is packed with tips and ideas that will put you on the fast-track to becoming that one person in your organization who always knows exactly what to do to deliver the right things, faster. Whether you’re agile or waterfall, project manager or PMO, we’ve got advice that will help you in your role