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McKinsey 7s Framework with examples

Created back in the 1970s by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman, based on their identification of 7 internal elements responsible for the success of an organization. McKinsey 7s framework basically aims to lay down 7 internal factors which if aligned correctly can propel the growth of an organization. The framework aims to achieve effectiveness and a capacity fulfil strategic goals of an organization. The framework has a mix of hard elements, which are usually influenced by the management and the soft elements which are influenced by the culture.

The seven elements go as follows:

Hard elements: Strategy, Structure, Systems

Soft elements: Shared Values, Skills, Style, Staff

What the framework tries to explain is that for the growth of an organization, all of these elements must function in synergy and effectively.

The 7S’s of the McKinsey 7s framework

So far, we’re sure you must have guessed that all the elements equally influence the framework. And so, it is important that we understand each of these carefully.


Planning. The cool part of any job, eh? This is where you usually decide your long-term goals of a company and plan ways to gain an edge over your competitor. We’re sure you see why this bit is important. How otherwise, will we see those Burger King vs McDonald’s advertisements? Some dude from strategy might have thought of it!


Not just the physical structure of the company, but also the corporate structure, aka hierarchy. The aim here is to ensure that the relevant folks in the department only report to the folks that are directly relevant to their job. If you work in Finance are reporting to a marketing head. You know there’s something wrong with the structure, lest you two are the only folks working in a company. In which case the framework may not be applicable to you.


The boring part. “The processes” of a company. This element describes what the staff does (on a day-by-day basis) to get the job done. Sounds like a typical 9-5? Can’t help it. This includes daily activities like Financing, recruitment, appraisals, meetings, etc.

Shared Values

The centre of it all. This element defines the core values and culture of an organization. All the elements of the framework revolve around how the culture of an organization is. If your culture is of philanthropy, your strategic aim will not be to gain an edge to gain profits. Similarly, you will have a lean structure and the systems will be different. So, it essentially boils down to the shared values that an organization inherits.


The style of leadership is essentially what the organization adapts. We have the best example in store for you: Mr Ratan Tata being an open heart philanthropic has motivated the entire organization to be philanthropic. A personal example would be of when you call your boss “sir” he will directly interrupt and tell you to call by their name. This is because his direct boss told the same thing to him. Makes sense now? 🙂


Personally, me, the author, feels that this should be technically the most important bit of this entire framework. But then again, no matter how good the people are if the culture is toxic; the good people will leave. Similarly, if the people are good; the toxic culture will disappear. Do you see why we cannot consider one element to be more important than others? Yep. The other bit this element defines is the general capabilities of your employees: the proactive will get back to you in less than 24 hours, etc.


Finally, the differentiating factor of an organization. It essentially represents how your organization is different from that of your competitor. It is linked directly to strategy, you see why? These skills are essentially how your customers see you. For example, Google is a cool, tech company; Microsoft is a professional company, etc.

Related: Take a look at the 7Ps of marketing

So, you see how each and every element in these 7S’s is linked to one another. This is a well-thought framework. Given COVID-19 has now changed how companies today function. Can you share your thoughts as to what has changed today? And is the 7S framework still valid today? What can we add/remove here?

Author: Yash Thakker

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