The 7S Framework

How do you analyze your organization’s position to achieve objectives? This is a common question among business executives and one that requires an in-depth analysis of the organization. There exist many models for organizational effectiveness but the 7S Framework is an essential. The 7S Framework equips executives with the tools necessary to propel their business forward.

The 7S Framework is a Value Based Management (VBM) model that describes how one can holistically and effectively organize a company. The 7S Framework involves 7 interdependent factors that are categorized as either “hard” or “soft” elements. The “hard elements” include: strategy, structure and systems. The “soft elements” include: shared values, skills, style and staff. The “hard elements” are easier to define or identify and management can directly influence them. The “soft elements”, on the other hand, can be more difficult to describe, and are less tangible and more influenced by culture.

Each of the elements and pertaining questions are outlined below:

[1] Strategy: the plan devised to maintain and build competitive advantage over the competition.

  • What is our strategy?
  • How do we intend to achieve our objectives?
  • How do we deal with competitive pressure?
  • How are changes in customer demands dealt with?
  • How is strategy adjusted for environmental issues?

[2] Structure: the way the organization is structured and who reports to whom.

  • How is the company/team divided?
  • What is the hierarchy?
  • How do the various departments coordinate activities?
  • How do the team members organize and align themselves?
  • Is decision making and controlling centralized or decentralized? Is this as it should be, given what we’re doing?
  • Where are the lines of communication? Explicit and implicit?

[3] Systems: the daily activities and procedures that staff members engage in to get the job done.

  • What are the main systems that run the organization? Consider financial and HR systems as well as communications and document storage.
  • Where are the controls and how are they monitored and evaluated?
  • What internal rules and processes does the team use to keep on track?

[4] Shared Values: called “superordinate goals” when the model was first developed, these are the core values of the company that are evidenced in the corporate culture and the general work ethic.

  • What are the core values?
  • What is the corporate/team culture?
  • How strong are the values?
  • What are the fundamental values that the company/team was built on?

[5] Style: the style of leadership adopted.

  • How participative is the management/leadership style?
  • How effective is that leadership?
  • Do employees/team members tend to be competitive or cooperative?
  • Are there real teams functioning within the organization or are they just nominal groups?

[6] Staff: the employees and their general capabilities.

  • What positions or specializations are represented within the team?
  • What positions need to be filled?
  • Are there gaps in required competencies?

[7] Skills: the actual skills and competencies of the employees working for the company.

  • What are the strongest skills represented within the company/team?
  • Are there any skills gaps?
  • What is the company/team known for doing well?
  • Do the current employees/team members have the ability to do the job?
  • How are skills monitored and assessed?

By Umar Zulqarnain

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