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Mckinsey 7S Framework: Hard and Soft Elements

Mckinsey 7s

McKinsey 7S Framework is a popular management model developed in the 1980s by Mckinsey consultants Robert H Waterman Jr, Tom Peters, and Julien Philips. It is most often used as an organizational analysis tool to assess and monitor changes in the internal situation of an organization.

McKinsey 7S Framework is a tool that analyzes a firm’s organizational design by looking at 7 key internal elements: strategy, structure, systems, shared values, style, staff, and skills, in order to identify if they are effectively aligned and allow an organization to achieve its objectives.

In the context of project management, according to Mckinsey 7S Framework, there are 7 key internal elements the organizations should be effectively aligned, to deliver projects successfully. Below are those 7 elements.

McKinsey 7 Elements:

  1. Strategy
  2. Structure
  3. Systems
  4. Shared Values
  5. Skills
  6. Style
  7. Staff

We shall look into each of these elements in detail

Strategy – It is a plan developed by an organization to sustain and enhance its competitive advantage in the market. A good strategy is the one that’s clearly articulated, is long-term, and is reinforced by a strong vision, mission, and values.

Structure – It is about the division of activities in the organization and the various coordination mechanisms. It shows who is responsible for what works, and who is accountable to whom.

Systems – It is about the various formal processes and procedures followed in running an organization. These determine how the entire business is done.

Shared values – Simply, we can say that these are the foundation of an organization. These are the key aspects that guide the various decisions at the organization level down to the employee level. In the case of multiple view points that affect decision making, the views that are in line with the shared values precede over other view points.

Skills – These are the core capabilities and competencies of the organization in general, and employees in particular.

Style – In simple words, it is about the leadership style and management style of an organization’s leaders. It is about the behavior patterns of people in the organization. It is about how the organization is managed.

Staff – It’s about all the human resources of the organization- how many are needed, how they will be recruited, managed, motivated, rewarded etc.

The first 3 elements – Strategy, Structure, Systems, are called Hard Elements.

The last 4 elements – Shared Values, Skills, Style, Staff, are called Soft Elements. 

Mckinsey Hard and Soft Elements

Mckinsey HARD Elements:

An organization will have these elements already in place. These elements are much easier to identify and manage compared to soft elements.

1) Strategy, 2) Structure, and 3) Systems are Mckinsey Hard Elements.

Mckinsey SOFT Elements:

These elements are difficult to describe, less tangible, and more influenced by the culture of an organization.

1) Shared Values, 2) Skills, 3) Style, and 4) Staff, are Mckinsey Soft Elements. 


Mckinsey's 7s or & elements



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