The McKinsey 7 S model details three hard organizational factors (Systems, Structure and Strategy) and four soft organizational factors (Shared Values, Skills, Staff and Style) that are all interconnected as a system and which collectively affect organizational performance.

Summary by The World of Work Project


The McKinsey 7 S Model

The McKinsey 7 S model is a classic framework through which to consider organizational change. It highlights seven different factors, all beginning with the letter S, that should be considered when any organizational change is being planned.

A diagram showing The McKinsey 7S Model

The model is excellent in two primary ways. Firstly, it clearly draws out the importance of the human side of change. Secondly, it links each factor to all of the other factors,  which helps to bring to life their complexity and inter-relatedness.

A large letter S - representing one of The McKinsey 7S Model factors
We just need another 6…

While this model is very simple, it’s one that organizational change practitioners should be aware of. They should also be aware of the key message that underlies the model.

That message is that you must remember that every factor you seek to change in an organization in turn affects all the other factors of that organization.

What this means is that whatever you’re planning on changing directly, you also need to plan for the knock on effects of that direct change on all other areas of the organization, if you are to lead an effective change program.

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Learning More

Organizational change is complex and hard to lead. The 7 factors detailed by Mckinsey in this model may be useful to include in your strategy work using either the Strategic Management Framework or VMOSA tool.

Many efforts to create lasting change in include the use of organizational development programs. You might find our posts on Force Field Analysis and the similarities between change models interesting. Lastly, we’ve also briefly summarized another Mckinsey model, their Influence model of change.

Several of the leading models of change may not have not been critiqued sufficiently. The below podcast casts a critical eye over the field of organizational change.

The World of Work Project View

We think organizational change is a fascinating and hugely important concept and activity.

Organizations spend nearly all their time changing, so organizational change is always taking place. In some ways organizational change is really just another way to think about organizational leadership.

There are many models of change that we look at elsewhere, but they key point that we’re interested in here is the distinction between people related change and other forms of change. In our view, the people side of organizational change is the essence of organizational leadership and a key skill for all leaders to work on.

Our Podcast

Our Podcast is a great way to learn more about hundreds of fascinating topics from around the world of work.

Peters, Thomas J. In Search of Excellence : Lessons from America’s Best-Run Companies. New York :Harper & Row, 1982. McKinsey also have included the 7 S model in their Enduring Ideas series, and you can see their writings and listen to their thoughts on the model here.

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