McKinsey 7-S

McKinsey 7-S is a vital method for any organization to understand its capabilities and positioning versus its rivals.

Uses of the method

  • Typically used at the start-up of a new business or to re-calibrate an existing one versus the marketplace.


  • Defines competitive advantage and disadvantages
  • Offer pointers to where  strategic change is required
  • Improves the performance of the organization
  • Provides template for tracking success and failures
  • Details the high-level strategy for all staff to follow
  • Increases collaboration  and strategic understanding


  • Requires deep and intensive strategic thinking
  • May be incomplete if not all the elements of the business model are properly considered in terms of their impact on each other

Steps to complete

  • Work through the framework answering each question in turn, tightly framing the answers in an inspiring, engaging and enabling manner for wide distribution.
  • Re-visit each question as further answers are entered ensuring that all answers are consistent and coherent on completion
  • What conclusions can we draw from the exercise(s)?
    • How might the future be different?
    • How does A affect B?
    • What is likely to remain the same or change significantly?
    • What are the likely outcomes?
    • What and who will likely shape our future?
    • Where could we be most affected by change?
    • What might we do about it?
    • What don't we know that we need to know?
    • What should we do now, today?
    • Why do we care?
    • When should we aim to meet on this?
  • Finish by noting your next steps. Next steps could include a further round of iteration, a recommendation on how to get the answers or use of other research and methods such as 'Visioning' to create more vantage points on the issue.

This method and your response can be shared with other members or kept private using the 'Privacy' field and through the 'Tag', 'Report' and 'Forum' functionalities. Use 'Tag' and/or 'Report' to aggregate your analyzes, or add a 'Forum' to ask others where they agree/disagree and encourage them to make their own analysis from their unique vantage point.

Click the 'Invite tab to send invitations to other members or non-members (colleagues, external experts etc.) to ask for their input. You can whether or not you want anonymous responses.  These can be viewed and exported within the Responses tab.

Further reference


The history of this method derives from the 7-S Framework business model offered by McKinsey in 1981. It was first created in 1978 by Richard Pascale, Anthony Athos, Tom Peters and Robert Waterman and became one of McKinsey's flagship methods.

This rendition combines the 7-S framework and the work of others to offer a comprehensive way to think through business models.

'McKinsey-7s' can  be shared with others or kept private using the 'Visible to' fields and through the 'tag', 'report', 'share'', 'link and 'comment' functionality. Use 'tag' and/or 'report' to aggregate your analyzes, 'share' with others via email, Facebook and Twitter etc. or add a 'comment' to ask others where they agree/disagree and encourage them to make their own analysis from their unique vantage point.

Contact us
Even with all the advice and tools we have provided here starting a foresight project from scratch can be a daunting prospect to a beginner. Let us know if you need help with this method or want a group facilitation exercise or full project or program carrying out by us. We promise to leave behind more internal knowledgeable people who can expand your initiative for better organizational performance.

Contact us today for a free discussion on your needs.

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