The Organizational Strategist

April 24, 2011

McKinsey 7S Model: A strategic assessment and alignment model


The 7S model is a strategic model that can be used for any of the following purposes:

  • Organizational alignment or performance improvement
  • Understanding the core and most influential factors in an organization’s strategy
  • Determining how best to realign an organization to a new strategy or other organization design
  • Examining the current workings and relations an organization exhibits


The model, made famous by the McKinsey consulting company, is good for a thorough discussion around an organizations activities, infrastructure, and interactions.

-The model and its usage-

Here is the 7S model that portrays seven elements of an organization.


I define the elements as follows:

Strategy – This is the organization’s alignment of resources and capabilities to “win” in its market.

Structure – This describes how the organization is organized.  This includes roles, responsibilities and accountability relationships.

Systems – This is the business and technical infrastructure that employees use on a day to day basis to accomplish their aims and goals.

Shared Values – This is a set of traits, behaviors, and characteristics that the organization believes in.  This would include the organization’s mission and vision.

Style – This is the behavioral elements the organizational leadership uses and culture of interaction.

Staff – This is the employee base, staffing plans and talent management.

Skills – This is the ability to do the organization’s work.  It reflects in the performance of the organization.


To assess each of these elements, here are some questions to ask:

Strategy –

  • What is the organization’s strategy seeking to accomplish?
  • How does the organization plan to use its resources and capabilities to deliver that?
  • What is distinct about this organization?
  • How does the organization compete?
  • How does the organization adapt to changing market conditions?

Structure –

  • How is the organization organized?
  • What are the reporting and working relationships (hierarchical, flat, silos, etc.)?
  • How do the employees align themselves to the strategy?
  • How are decisions made? Is it based off of centralization, empowerment, decentralization or other approaches?
  • How is information shared (formal and informal channels) across the organization?

Systems –

  • What are the primary business and technical systems that drive the organization?
  • What and where are the system controls?
  • How is progress and evolution tracked?
  • What internal rules and processes does the team utilize to maintain course?

Shared Values –

  • What is the mission of the organization?
  • What is the vision to get there?  If so, what is it?
  • What are the ideal versus real values?
  • How do the values play out in daily life?
  • What are the founding values that the organization was built upon?

Style –

  • What is the management/leadership style like? How do they behave?
  • How do employees respond to management/leadership?
  • Do employees function competitively, collaboratively, or cooperatively?
  • Are there real teams functioning within the organization or are they just nominal groups?
  • What behaviors, tasks and deliverables does management/leadership reward?

Staff –

  • What is the size of the organization?
  • What are the staffing needs?
  • Are there gaps in required capabilities or resources?
  • What is the plan to address those needs?

Skills –

  • What skills are used to deliver the core products and/or services? Are these skills sufficiently present and available?
  • Are there any skill gaps?
  • What is the organization known for doing well?
  • Do the employees have the right capabilities to do their jobs?
  • How are skills monitored, assessed, and improved?


Once the questions are answered, the data should be examined.  The analysis should look for the following aspects:

  • Consistency
  • Alignment
  • Conflicts
  • Gaps
  • Support
  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses

The uses of the model can be as a static picture to determine how effectively the organization is implementing its strategy.  Also, it can be used two-fold with a current state and an intended future state.  By comparing the current and future states, gaps can be assessed, which lead to improvement and action plans.  That latter case makes enables the model to be used for large scale change.


Like any model, there are good fits and poor fits.  This is a handy model for taking a snapshot and comparing that to the desired state or improvement.  It visually shows how everything is linked and understanding the larger implications of change can be very revealing.  It is much like how a general doctor can help diagnose a patient’s situation, but the fine-tuned skill of a surgeon can be used to make the specific, desired changed. 


Read more about how to leverage a McKinsey 7S Model assessment on my follow up article McKinsey 7S Model: Progressive change.


This article’s content was based on,, and my experience and opinions.



  1. This is very informative! THANK YOU!

    Comment by Jaz Minn — October 7, 2012 @ 8:27 pm

  2. very informative indeed…

    Comment by — September 19, 2014 @ 10:55 pm

  3. This Is a very useful management tool.

    Comment by Mateo Luga — October 20, 2014 @ 8:10 pm

  4. This very helpfull

    Comment by Arlin — July 4, 2015 @ 5:33 pm

  5. Notice that the “Shared Values” is placed in the middle of the Framework or model. It highlights that values are central to the development of all the other critical elements of McKinsey 7S Framework

    Comment by — September 12, 2016 @ 3:14 pm

  6. Reblogged this on Business & Money Matters and commented:
    The McKinsey 7S assessment is a great tool to use when working with business client and are struggling to create sustainability.

    Comment by round1funding — October 21, 2017 @ 11:27 am

  7. This detailed information is very helpful in my company assessment.?

    Comment by JULIO MARTIN — October 15, 2018 @ 9:27 am

  8. Well structured and informative

    Comment by musa mdluli — November 10, 2018 @ 7:49 am

  9. Great resource. This is my 7-S model for dummies! Now applying the model now makes more sense. I was referred to the blog by a peer review paper “Analyzing Organizational Structure Based on 7s Model of Mckinsey” (Ravanfar, 2015).

    Comment by Gbenga — July 14, 2019 @ 10:51 pm

  10. A wonderful piece, very informative, educative, stimulating, rewarding and succinctly structured. Thank you so very much- Ilupeju Thomas Omotayo

    Comment by Ilupeju Thomas Omotayo — February 14, 2020 @ 6:56 am

  11. Very informative, and the questions on each element really helped me to understand the model.

    Comment by The Messenger — May 10, 2020 @ 8:07 pm

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