The McKinsey consultants Anthony Athos, Richard Pascale, Tom Peters and Robert Waterman developed the 7 S model as a analytical framework in the late 70s when they researched organisational effectiveness. The consultants went full circle with this model by linking strategy with organisational effectiveness. McKinsey & Company began as consultancy firm specialised in organisational (re)structuring. By the 1960s, the organisation had developed into a strategy consulting power house. The 7 S model consisted of seven factors:

 

1. STRATEGY

the integrated vision and direction of the company as well as the manner in which it communicates and implements that vision and direction.

 

2. STRUCTURE

the form of the organisational chart and interconnections between positions in the organisational hierarchy.

 

3. SYSTEMS

the procedures and routine processes required to perform the work , including the ways information moves through the organisation.

 

4. STAFF

the personnel categories within the organisation, e.g. marketeers, engineers.

 

5. STYLE

the characterisation of the ways key managers set priorities and behave in order to achieve the organisation's goals.

 

6. SKILLS

the distinctive capabilities of the organisation as a whole.

 

7. SHARED VALUES

the core beliefs underlying the organisation's existence and its expectations of its members. Values act as an organisation's conscience and provide guidance in times of crisis.

 

The original intention of the model was to help guide thinking about organisational effectiveness in the broadest sense. The 7-S model turned out to be an excellent tool for judging an organisation's ability to implement a given strategy. The model showed that thinking about strategy implementation was more complex than the relationship between strategy and structure as Chandler had suggested.

 

To be effective, an organisation must have a high degree of internal alignment among all seven Ss. Each S must be consistent with the other factors for them to reinforce one another. With the exception of the skills factor, all Ss are interrelated and a change in one affects all others.

 

Certain key factors such as staff, strategy, structure and systems can be changed in the short term. The three remaining Ss -- style, skills and shared values -- are delayed factors that can only be affected long term. Skills are both hard and soft. Peters pointed out that true competitive advantage originates from these soft factors.

 

The model can be used as both a static checklist for analysis purposes and a tool to assess potential conflicts when a strategic program is implemented.