McKinsey 7S Framework


The McKinsey 7S framework is a favorite of the founders of Growth CPR.  It has served as a touchstone throughout our professional careers for improving the likelihood of success for internal and advisory projects, as well as our overall approach to management.  The framework was developed by Tom Peters and Robert H. Waterman, Jr. of McKinsey & Company in the late 1970s and published as the 7S framework in the early 1980s.  Tom Peter’s seminal book, In Search of Excellence, expanded on the 7S framework and explored how companies became excellent when they focused on the 7S elements.

The 7S premise is that there are seven interdependent internal elements of a company that must be aligned for the company to be successful.  The seven elements are:

  1. Strategy – how the company competes.
  2. Structure – how the company organizes, integrates, and promotes collaboration.
  3. Systems – the formal processes, procedures, policies, and IT applications.
  4. Skills – the key competencies of the company.
  5. Staff – the characteristics of the human resources within a company including demographics, education, and attitudes.
  6. Style – the style of company leadership including interactions and behaviors between management and staff.
  7. Shared values – the culture of the company including the norms, attitudes, and beliefs.

The first three S’s are considered “hard” elements, easier to identify and can be directly influenced by management.  The last four are considered “soft” elements which are less tangible and more difficult to define.  However, they are just as critical as the hard elements since they comprise the company culture.

Framework Basics

Because Main Street CPA firms are unlikely to add value to or be engaged to advise on the soft elements…