7S: Tom Peters, Robert Waterman, Julien Phillips (1980)

The 7S Framework: A Guide to Organizational Effectiveness, written by Tom Peters, Robert Waterman, and Julien Phillips and first published in 1980, is a management model that provides a holistic approach to analyzing and improving organizational effectiveness.

The 7S Framework explores seven interconnected elements that are crucial for organizational success and alignment. These elements are divided into two categories: hard elements and soft elements, as follows:

Hard Elements:

  • Strategy: The overall plan and direction of the organization, including goals, objectives, and competitive positioning.
  • Structure: The formal framework that defines the division of tasks, responsibilities, and reporting relationships within the organization.
  • Systems: The processes, procedures, and routines that enable the organization to operate efficiently and effectively, such as budgeting, performance management, and information systems.
  • Skills: The capabilities and competencies possessed by individuals and teams within the organization, including technical skills, knowledge, and expertise.

Soft Elements:

  • Shared Values: The core beliefs, values, and principles that guide the behavior and decision-making of individuals within the organization. Shared values contribute to the organization’s culture and shape its identity.
  • Style: The leadership style and management practices that influence the overall tone and approach of the organization. This includes aspects such as communication styles, decision-making processes, and the leadership behaviors exhibited.
  • Staff: The people within the organization, their roles, and the fit between their skills, competencies, and the requirements of their positions. Staff includes both employees and other stakeholders who contribute to the organization’s success.

The 7S Framework suggests that organizations must align and synchronize these seven elements to achieve optimal performance and effectiveness. Any changes or improvements made to one element should be considered in relation to the others to ensure consistency and alignment.

The book provides insights and practical guidance on how organizations can assess and enhance each element to create a coherent and high-performing organization. It emphasizes the importance of addressing both the tangible (hard) and intangible (soft) elements of the organization to drive sustainable success.

The 7S Framework has had a significant impact on management thinking and has been widely adopted as a diagnostic and planning tool for organizational change and improvement. It helps leaders and managers to understand the interconnectedness of various organizational elements and guides them in making strategic decisions to create a well-aligned and effective organization.