The Organizational Strategist

October 24, 2011

McKinsey 7S Model – Progressive Change


-Introduction-

In an earlier article, I introduced the strategic and alignment 7S model from McKinsey.  Assessments, like the 7S or the well-known SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats), help establish a snapshot of the status and progress of an organization, product, or service.  These assessments alone do not give lasting value and information as market forces change quickly and often with little notice. As such, an assessment is best utilized as a change catalyst to move the organization forward.

-Applying McKinsey 7S Model Assessments-

With planned change, the destination or future state should be understood first.  This knowledge gives perspective.  Having a future state vision allows one to gauge progress, set targets, and milestones to achieve.  Once the future state is known, the current state can be documented to show a comparison.  This makes it clear what can be leveraged, where the current strengths are, and where there are areas to build or holes to fill.  The gap analysis leads to steps to build upon.

 As covered in the previous article, the McKinsey 7S Model covers multiple facets of an organization.  In order to most effectively change an organization, the foundational characteristics (Shared Values) and broad ranging direction (Strategy) should be addressed first.  Following that, the internal coordination (Structure) and setup (System) should be determined to align to the direction.  Lastly, the more people-centric areas fulfill an organization’s goals and objectives.  That is done via updates to its capability (Skills), individual placement (Staff) and the manners that people interact and work (Style).

 

-Conclusion-

The McKinsey 7S Model is helpful in delivering a comprehensive organizational analysis.  Using that information can lead to a new vision, through internal operation updates, and down to individual abilities and placement.  Mapping out change in its entirety is very helpful in its planning.  The successful execution and management of that change then requires a comprehensive, dedicated, business impact-focused, and sustained effort.

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October 2, 2011

A competitive evaluation of Google+

Filed under: Strategy, Technology — Tags: , , , , — Whit @ 3:56 pm

Every once in a while a new technology comes around that takes the spotlight.  In that attempt, Google+ has recently been released and has been gaining traction.  However, will it become a passing fad that does not go anywhere?

The features of Google+, or G+ as I’ve abbreviated it, are very appealing yet much the same as its major competitor, Facebook.  There are differences of course in the future planned areas, such as the video chat that has been advertised.  While the core of means of sharing information remains much the same.  A big usability advantage is that G+ has “circles,” which makes specialized information distribution significantly easier.  There lies a compelling difference between Facebook and G+.

Right now, G+ is steadily growing and has a high utilization rate.  I anticipate this is principally due to the early adopters who are tech enthusiasts and love playing with and sharing techie tools and stories. 

What Google+ can do to make people switch over from Facebook:

  • New, engaging features that will distinguish G+
  • Make the transition easy (port over other social network content like profile information, friends, images, etc.)
  • Link with specialized social networks (LinkedIn as an example) to span across sites for sharing and/or pulling in information

What G+ can do to retain its new users:

  • Continue to make the user experience positive (features, updates, etc.)
  • Maintain the distinctive appeals of G+ and Google’s brand image (simplicity, search/sharing information, links with other Google services)
  • Balance new services with the user acceptance and adoption (The auto-upload of pictures on my phone is an example that makes me hesitant to install G+ there)

Facebook has rolled out many updates in recent years that were very negatively perceived by its users.  What was popular and effective was replaced by convoluted, poor interfaces that confused people and took away what was appreciated.  Facebook has adjusted and evolved over time though.  However, activity like that will lessen the loyalty a user has to the service.  This leads to an opportunity for substitute services, like G+.  However, if G+ were to take the same approach of losing touch with its users, then the same loyalty loss may occur.

Time will tell as to whether G+ wins out on the dominant social network service.  What are your thoughts how it will turn out?

-Facebook’s recent timeline update-

As I was amid the drafting and editing process for this article, I saw on the news that Facebook was going to roll out a large timeline feature to its site.  This was seen as both a means to compete against Google+ and a new feature for Facebook.  This would be a compelling advancement for Facebook if users were to involve themselves and take the time to intimately personalize their information.   It would be a strong point for people to stay with Facebook if their information and interactions are unique.  This also helps if other users are involved, make the connections stronger, and share/connect information together.  That network externality could bring immense benefits.

To brand new social network/navigation users though, Google+ will still likely be an easy entrance point if its general sharing and reading functionality continues to be better.  Facebook would then become the offering for those that have more time and energy to put into their profiles. 

 

Some nice links from Mashable.com that describe Google+:

http://mashable.com/2011/07/16/google-plus-resources/

http://mashable.com/2011/07/16/google-plus-guide/

http://mashable.com/2011/07/01/google-the-pros-cons/

September 21, 2011

Distinctive approaches bring value inside and outside companies


-Introduction-

Large and successful companies are often recognized for their distinctive characteristics, services, and products.  Those elements set the company apart due to the unique or unusual corporate actions taken and results achieved.  My previous topics of sustainable competitive advantages and blue ocean strategy speak to activities and frameworks that enable a company to realize the many benefits of distinction and focus from a market share and competition standpoint.   There are other benefits that can be realized via an organization’s evolution to become powerful and distinctive.

-Organizational Benefits from Distinction-

Blue ocean strategy covers how having unique or highly unusual offerings helps create lasting market share and protection from competitors (new and old).  This is a very impactful and helpful outcome for an organization’s long term customer prospects.  Beyond those benefits, striving towards and gradually becoming distinctive offers benefits internal to an organization as well.

The devotion to a cause or admirable pursuit of something special is a potent motivating factor.  Employees who feel that they are a part of something special, unusual, unique or otherwise extraordinary have significantly increased engagement, energy, dedication, and better results.  If an organization is distinct, that can lead to such increased engagement in the employees.  Furthering that, finding the right kind of organizational fit with applicants becomes much easier for hiring managers and for the applicants themselves to know if there is a clear match or not.  This kind of focus and draw helps bring together people that will reinforce and further the distinguishing elements of an organization. 

Having distinction also provides clarity and focus to decision making.  Options and recommendations can be weighed against supporting or hindering the differences an organization has created.  This check and balance makes decision making and supporting measures easier to understand and act upon.  The simple reduction of options speeds up and helps qualify decisions.  This becomes especially important for marketing and decisions that impact outward facing functions.  Brand recognition for differentiated products or services makes an organization much more memorable and impactful to consumers.  As such, organizations that are distinct have tremendous potential with consumer awareness initiatives. 

-Building Organizational Distinction-

With the benefits of distinction and differentiation being many, the case for change is compelling.  The devising, aligning and adhering to a plan is a substantial undertaking and effort.  Many of my other articles speak to the implementation and acting on strategy so I will leave that out this time.  That leaves the origin and devising where and how to build an organization’s distinction.  To discover ideas, approaches, and strategies, try the following activities:

  • Observe the market to look for gaps, areas of need, or simply where offerings can be accessed
  • Learn trends in consumer habits, spot opportunities, or create avenues to make new inroads to reach customers and deliver value
  • Study companies and competitors in the relevant industries to see what is most helpful, valuable or otherwise good for customers, employees, large scale results, etc.
  • Prepare and orient the capabilities and resources in your organization around the areas to build distinction to capture those observed or discovered opportunities
  • Place barriers against competitors for existing market share and/or to prevent new entrants to come in
  • Enact sustaining measures for the existing market share so it maintains, if not grows over time

-Conclusion-

The organizational appeal to become distinct is strong and potentially very rewarding.  Entrepreneurial pursuits are vital in discovering the opportunities to be found.  Dedication, guidance, and ongoing management are needed to carefully cultivate the distinction opportunities.  The results can leave competitors in the dust, reach new impact and benefit levels and make profound changes on how business is conducted.  What are the opportunities you see for your organization?  How might your organization take on that potential?

July 31, 2011

Strategic Wisdom: An informed action is the impactful one


Wisdom is defined by dictionary.com as the following:

1. the quality or state of being wise; knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight.

2. scholarly knowledge or learning: the wisdom of the schools.

3. wise sayings or teachings; precepts.

There are many things I appreciate or learn from others that I find to be wisdom.  What may be wisdom to me may not be the same to others.  That is because what is insightful varies based on perspective and experience.  If I were to receive the same advice as I heard recently during a radically different phase of my life, I may not find it interesting or valuable.  In recollection though, I have found that old wisdom still rings true when I place myself back in the mindset and position I was in. 

I’ve compiled a short list of phrases or sayings that I have found to be astute and helpful that applies to the context of the Organizational Strategist.  These may be from famous sources, but they are currently unknown to me.  I hope you find them to be valuable in your own way. 

 

Words create worlds – I heard this saying in regards to appreciative inquiry designs and dialogues.  The words that are chosen to create inquiry, start and intervention, or bring about new thought signal what is to come.  The core design of a question is the harbinger of what will come from the response.  Choose your words with care and thought to bring about new ideas and actions.

Distinction in strategy is powerful – Strategy is the alignment of capabilities and resources to win in a market.  If the mix of capabilities and resources create a unique approach, it becomes more difficult to duplicate or substitute.  This makes them more appealing, interesting, and sustainable over time.  This differentiation is often a core element of many of the most influential strategies.

Health comes before strategy – While devising and implementing strategy are vitally important to the success of an organization, health can be more important.  If an organization is very unhealthy, it will not matter if the strategy is magnificently planned because people are what make strategy effective.  Having a healthy and productive organization is the foundation that long term strategy needs to build on.

Strategy wins over culture – Strategy is mean to be the alignment of ALL the applicable capabilities and resources in an organization to win in its market. That would include the behavior and activity that happens among the people within the organization.  The culture of an organization is often an important element in victory or defeat.  Due to that, successful strategies should pay heed to the importance of culture and how it enables or disables the effectiveness of strategy.

Culture change starts via stories and examples – The culture of an organization is grown and cultivated over time.  It is not a simple level to switch or dial to spin.  What initiates culture change is vision, storytelling, leadership, and guiding principles for others to take ahold of and build upon.

People act on what is measured and tracked – Aspirational statements and visions do not have direct impact to people unless it falls within their power and ability to act upon.  People may be well intentioned and give extra effort, but if they are not contributing to the core metrics of an organization, they will not be as effective.  As a result of that, key performance indicators (KPIs) and tracking form the basis of what is most important in an organization.  If it is measured and tracked where people are held accountable to those qualitative or quantitative results, it will be more important for those people to act upon.

Innovation should be protected and incubated – Innovation by its core nature involves ideas and trying something new or different.  The more a company has a drive for delivery, the further detached the innovation should become.  That enables more freedom in thinking and the ability to experiment.

Do not try to apply lean principles to innovation – Like the above point, innovation involves creativity. Lean, Six Sigma, CMMI and other mechanisms for process improvement do very well for maturing processes.  However, they should not be imposed on new processes and ideas as they can stifle the possibilities that can emerge.

Every change is an opportunity – Whether change is occurring because something good or bad is expected to happen, treat the approach as a new opportunity.  By thinking openly, the solutions to challenges, problems, or goals can lead to far better results than the anticipated return to a status quo.

People do not inherently resist change, but they do resist being changed – Much like taxes, change is a constant force in everyone’s lives.  It may be slower or faster, dramatic or gradual, positive or negative or other elements.  Change is something we all exposed to and happens whether or not we are ready for it.  Yet, when we plan, understand, and welcome change it can be embraced and boosting.  If we fight it, then it becomes a battle or a war.  The important point is that inspiring others to buy-in to change makes it so they accept it.

If you have thoughts to share on these sayings or other ones that have been valuable to you, share them here!  I am sure to not be the only one who would enjoy the conversation and learning.

June 29, 2011

Establish your foundational tool set to seed success


Earlier this year I was reading the book Change Making by Richard Bevan and I got to thinking about how it is important to have “tools” ready ahead of time for your work.  Much like a blacksmith has an anvil, a forge, sets of tongs, and other items that are needed for the craft, a strategist should have important materials on hand.  In the corporate world, these often take the form of templates and process documents for repeated use.  In more thought based scenarios conceptual frameworks can be generated to allow for the needed customization of each objective. 

There is some foundational infrastructure and planning that an organization must do to have at the ready.  These are areas in which having a plan can really benefit or secure an organization’s efforts for the long term.  As a short sample, here are tools an organization needs before their intended use:

–          Marketing materials, specifically company branding

  • All office documents (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Project, etc.)
  • Letterhead for formal communications
  • Website
  • Other branding documents (ex: hand-outs, product/service pamphlets)

–          Legal documentation

  • Purchase Orders/Invoices
  • Accounting/HR materials
  • Personnel  materials
  • Company agreements and deals

–          Thought leadership

  • Organizational mission, vision, strategy, and objectives
  • Trademarks, patents and other proprietary idea information
  • Product and service delivery plans

In addition to the special purpose materials above, there are many efforts that can be built in such a way that they can create operational efficiency gains later on.  Here is a sample, and definitely non-exhaustive, list of reusable tools that can be created and later repurposed:

–          Structured meeting notes (it helps to have a guide and flow to record discussions)

–          Project Communications

  • Kick-off announcement
  • Progress update
  • Feedback request
  • Request for action
  • Go-live announcement
  • Close out announcement

–          Deliverables

  • Visually appealing or structured slides
  • Reports (assessments, progress, recommended actions, etc.)
  • Approach summaries
  • Designs
  • Processes
  • Requirements/Objectives
  • QA/Test/Audit materials
  • Question sets (surveys, focus groups, interviews, etc.)
  • Workshop and offsite materials (timing, structure, ground rules, agenda, etc.)

The challenge is to find the right thresholds in standardizing and formalizing.  If too much policy is dictated or documentation is required, it can become burdensome and counterproductive.  The higher security or sensitivity that needs to be incorporated, the more thought needs to be put into its preparation.  As services are delivered, the iterative improvement process can lead to fantastic results. Often times, the guiding principle is to create a foundational process and have best practices brought in, but not mandated, to allow for ingenuity and innovation. 

Is your organization equipped with the right tools for success?

June 8, 2011

Celebrate Success to Build Momentum


 I have been on many projects individually and as a part of a team where I felt I did great work and the results had a very strong, positive impact. Unfortunately, some of those projects led immediately into another project without honoring the work done, which helps in understanding and learning from the experience.  It also allows for “taking a breather” to regain faculties and energy. It is even more draining leaving a difficult or intense project and launching immediately into another.   I’ve seen very efficient and effective teams change their working dynamic and devolve into a challenging work environment.

On other occasions, an acknowledged break or departure from business as usual takes place after a major milestone to step back from the next step in line.  Activities like lessons learned, honoring commitments made and realized, acknowledging achievements and taking a break to relax are done to celebrate the great strides made and success of the project.  After such activities, I have seen low morale transform into high hopes and positive outlooks, a renewal of effort and commitments, performance improvement decisions for individuals and teamwork, and increased energy going into the next project. 

No one and no team can sustain high output and performance indefinitely.  Similar to how everyone needs to sleep, despite what some might say, everyone needs an occasional break.  It does not take much and simply having a team dinner, commemorative meeting or other special occasion can go a long ways to renewal.

When you have the occasion to celebrate success, make the time to look into the following areas:

  • Acknowledge strengths and accomplishments of your team and colleagues: This feedback reinforces continuity, performance, confidence, and morale.  Strengths based change is very powerful, energizing, and renewing in itself.  If there are people that have natural strengths that help out the team, go to the extra effort to praise them and enable those strengths to be drawn upon.
  • Learn from experience and past results: Understand what went well and what has not gone well.  Knowing these areas and making plans to extend the good parts and mitigate the bad parts leads to increased likelihood of success in the future.  Too often we are learning on the job through trial and error or by having to make snap judgments on how best to proceed.  Taking time to reflect, understand what happened, and understand how the strengths and/or accomplishments can be expanded, reused, or heightened in the future can be a very impactful and fruitful activity.
  • Build team and individual confidence, reliance, and overall effectiveness:  A well-functioning team is more than just the sum of its individual contributions together.  First a discussion on the accomplishments and achievements made by individuals should be done.  After that, the team should examine where and how those work products can be leveraged or built upon at the team level.  That leads to making the skills, strengths, and cooperation of a team complementary and generative.  The end results are that the work products make a lead ahead in their impact.

As an individual contributor, team member, manager, and/or leader take the time to celebrate the successes that you and others on your team have created.  You may be surprised to see how that can help you, your team and your organization in the future.

May 24, 2011

The Evergreen Model: The gateway strategy model as an assessment


-Introduction-

In my previous blog article, I introduced the Evergreen Model, which is also known as the 4 + 2 Model.  This article will dive into how to use the model as an assessment for internal or external consulting purposes.   There are sets of questions should be expanded upon during an assessment’s data gathering. 

-Assessing the Core Elements-

Strategy Questions-

  1. What is the organization’s strategy aiming to achieve?
  2. Describe how it is organized, aligned, and implemented.
  3. How does the organization grow?  What is the track record?  What are the future plans?
  4. What is the value proposition to customers?

 

Execution Questions-

  1. Rate and describe the organization’s product and/or service delivery.
  2. What is done to continually improve delivery? How does that compare to the industry?
  3. How does the organization respond to changing market conditions?
  4. How satisfied are customers?

 

Culture Questions-

  1. Describe the organizational culture.  What is valued and sought after?
  2. How are the desired behaviors reinforced (reward/punishment)?
  3. What were the founding principles of the organization?
  4. Where and how do the founding principles show through?

 

Structure Questions-

  1. How are employees organized? What are the accountability relationships?
  2. What is the information flow like? 
  3. How are decisions made and carried out?
  4. Does the structure enable work to be done at higher quality, faster, and/or with fewer resources?

 

-Assessing the Auxiliary Elements-

Talent Questions-

  1. What is done to develop and cultivate the employees?
  2. How happy are the employees?  What is the attrition and retention like?
  3. How engaged are the employees?  Do they enjoy the work, find it interesting and thrive in the challenges?
  4. What are the selection and promotion processes?  What is leadership’s involvement there?

 

Innovation Questions-

  1. How are new ideas incorporated into new and existing products, services, and operations?
  2. How does the organization stay on top of industry developments?
  3. What does the organization do to innovate?  How successful is the organization at innovating?

 

Leadership Questions-

  1. How does leadership interact with employees?  How is the leadership committed to execution?
  2. What is the vision and mission that employees hear from leadership?
  3. What is the relationship between employees and leadership like (trusting, inspirational, proud, etc.)?
  4. How invested is leadership to the success of the organization?

 

Mergers & Partnerships Questions-

  1. How does the organization work with other organizations?  Are there M&As or partnerships?
  2. What is the size and scope of these deals and partnerships?
  3. How effectively do the M&A deals go through (before and after)?
  4. How effectively do the organizations and partners work together?

 

With the Auxiliary Elements, it may be necessary to first determine which the two selections are or what should be the two selections.  Each element can lead to substantial organizational efforts, so finding where to focus efforts can help ensure an organization is not spreading itself too thin.  The Auxiliary Elements can form sustainable competitive advantages as well. 

-Analyzing Results and Next Steps-

The analysis should look for themes and patterns in the following aspects:

  • Consistency
  • Alignment
  • Conflicts
  • Gaps
  • Support

 

A traditional SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis could be done as well.  Other questions that should be examined include:

  • What is the core like in relation to the auxiliary areas?
  • What are the best and worst auxiliary areas?
  • What are the chosen two auxiliary areas, if it’s not already known?
    • What should they be?
    • What needs to change?

 

The exact next steps would be dependent on the question results.  Each element, both in the core and the auxiliary sets, could result in further investigation and targeted initiatives.  Here are some general guidelines to act upon:

  • The core 4 are absolutely vital.  These form the basis of a successful organization so those would have prioritized action.
  • Choose the 2 auxiliary options, if it is not already clear.  Then focus and refine those to make them core competencies of the organization. 
  • The SWOT analysis should lend itself to combinations of Strengths (S), Strengths and Opportunities (SO) and Strengths and Threats (ST) to overcome the Weakness (W) areas.

 

These questions and analysis points can give you a great start into determining how effective the 4 core and 2 selected elements are in an organization.  Share how your assessments go and what other tools and techniques are useful complements!

May 21, 2011

The Evergreen Model: The gateway strategy model


-Introduction-

Like other strategic models, the Evergreen Model has its best case uses and poor fits.  The Evergreen Model, also known as the 4 + 2 Model, is a good for a general organizational framework.  The Evergreen Model looks into core organizational aspects that need to be well aligned to lead toward marketplace success.

-The 4+2 Elements-

This model comes from a comprehensive 10 year study of 160 companies, across 40 industries, which were all performing at an equal level.  The study was named “The Evergreen Project.”  Over time, there were clear companies that excelled while others floundered.  The results of tracking and examining these companies can be boiled down to a set of 4 core pursuits common to the successful companies and a selection of 2 auxiliary pursuits. This is why it is sometimes known as the 4 + 2 Model instead of the Evergreen Model.  The authors of the study and model are:

  • Nithin Nora, Dean of the Harvard Business School
  • William Joyce, Strategy and Organizational Theory from Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business
  • Bruce Roberson, Executive Vice President of marketing and sales at Safety-Kleen

 

The model can be used as an organizational assessment that covers common organizational elements.  I will later get into the assessment or consulting take on the model.  That will include question sets to examine the health and orientation of the 4 core pursuits as well as the 2 selected auxiliary pursuits.  Each of the examined pursuits could lead to many initiatives, which is why it is a more general framework.

The distilled essence of the core four elements are as follows:

Strategy

  • Focus and stay the course
  • Continually grow

Execution

  • Strive for excellence
  • Prioritize operational changes to ensure solid delivery

Culture

  • Drive performance and behavior
  • Reinforce and reward good performance

Structure

  • Create a simple, flat, and non-bureaucratic organization
  • Instill collaboration and empowerment

 

All 4 core elements are crucial for success.  These drive the organization forward and sustain it over time.  It is also nice to have visuals.  Here are the 4 core elements and the selection of the 2 auxiliary elements on the right. 

 

The selection of the 2 auxiliary strategic pursuits should be determined by a combination of what would be most appealing or helpful to the organization and what the organization has already been striving towards. 

For example, not all market spaces would require innovation if the organization delivers products or services that do not need to be new to the industry or environment.  Another example might be that talent is not crucial for the organization if the primary execution does not require advanced experience or knowledge.

It is likely that most organizations have been working toward one or more of these pursuits, but may not have clearly focused on just two.

-Next Steps-

I call the Evergreen Model the gateway model as it sets up high level of organizational guidance.  Once it is employed, it can lead to many other avenues of inquiry and effort.  Other strategic models might complement the approach an organization takes.  Try it out and see how it can take your organization to its next level.

-Resources-

This Harvard Business School article formed the basis of this article.  My education, research, and experience supplemented and shaped the content in this blog post.

April 24, 2011

McKinsey 7S Model: A strategic assessment and alignment model


-Introduction-

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.

-Summary-

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. 

Update:

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

Sources:

This article’s content was based on http://www.themanager.org/models/7S%20Model.htm, http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newSTR_91.htm, and my experience and opinions.

April 13, 2011

Change of pace and openings for opportunities


-Introduction-

Organizational development includes many activities that organize, align, and implement strategy.  When undertaking an organizational development initiative, like strategic planning or designing, it requires a shift from the busy activity and drive to push out services and products to customers.  This shift is a time where “out of the box thinking”, “game changers”, “paradigm shifts” and other achievements can be made.

-Take ahold of the time you have to reshape your outlook-

Organizational development activities often include taking the time to really think and work through the challenges at hand.  It is easy to get lost in the chaos and activity of day to day business.  Over time, focus and clarity of purpose can be lost or diminished.  Market environments change as do the nature of consumers, competitors and even internal operations. 

As products and services emerge, mature, and become obsolete the very nature of an organization’s purpose can change.  As these changes occur, it makes sense to pause the inertia to examine if the course should be changed with ongoing efforts, to scrap long term efforts, or begin new initiatives.  During these times of pause, the organization can be reconfigured, bolstered, or fine-tuned.  These occasional events are prime opportunity for change.  It’s in these events that existing and planned investments of time, money, and capability can all be put in check to revamp the organization’s strategy and choices. This is where revelations and innovations are sparked.  The outcomes can become fantastic if they are capitalized.

-Summary-

Basically, organizational development allows for a break in the charge forward to think where your organization is at, where it should be going, and how it should evolve to get there.   Continually charging forward can lead to errors in judgment, loss of opportunities, and moving in the wrong direction.  Take advantage of the time at hand to challenge and clarify the assumptions that have been made, understand how the market environment has evolved, and realign the organization’s resources and capabilities to maximize your strategic execution.

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