Structuring your approach

I’m doing an activity with a team in a few weeks that is partly based on the McKinsey 7S framework.  I like the way it can analyse core aspects of change but feel it is a little complex; Staff, Style, and Shared Values can be summarised as Culture.  Additionally, there is no direct link between systems and skills without passing through shared values; I believe there is a strong link between these two parts of the model.

Using this idea of 4S (Strategy, Structure, Systems, Skills) and C (Culture), we’ll do some work with the team investigating how they function and the inter-related links between each area of the 4SC list.   The titles are a useful challenge for L&D to see if what we’re offering will support the organisation; I’m in a design charette at the moment and it’s a useful way to test if what we’re working on aligns with the needs of the organisation.  With each part of the design phase we’re challenging ourselves by asking the questions below (and others) to make sure we’re in alignment. A lot of our activity is disrupting; it needs to be disrupting two of the areas below to have substantial impact.


At a fundamental level, does your design align to the organisation’s core objectives?  If you’re designing for a team or individual, are you supporting their lower aims?  Can the support clearly link to the performance objectives?  If you’re disrupting, are you challenging the thinking about the direction of travel?


This isn’t about hierarchy, it’s about roles and responsibilities.  What expectations does anyone (and everyone) involved in the process have? What linkages do you need to make to be sure that the strategy is met?  Where do accountabilities and responsibilities lay?  Have you consulted and informed everyone you need to? If disrupting, are you challenging the status quo within your support and asking why not?


This is about processes and ways of working; what systems will you be:

  • adding
  • amending
  • removing

as a result of your support? What technology are you using and is your selection valid to support the strategy and structure? Within dusruption, this is about removing systems and best practices to create space for innovation.


This isn’t about the skills change as a result of the support but your starting point.  Are you able to use the systems in place?  Are they clear to anyone involved in the support you’re offering?  Have you considered the impact of your support across a broad range of skills:

  • People
  • Personal
  • Process

Within disruptive support, you’ll be challenging the expected skill-set and researching alternative behaviours, traits and attitudes.


This is about the other soft areas of the McKinsey model – does your support support the pace, and more importantly, cadence, of the organisation?  What are the intrinsic and extrinsic motivations for your support to be adopted? Have you echoed the volume and tone of voice of the organisation, team or group you’re supporting? Disruption here can be a challenge and any support you’re creating will need clear understanding from the leadership of the organisation or team.

What do you think?  Do you assess your support to these measures?  How could it help your job if you did?

Let me know via the comments box.

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