Why the 7S Model Could Help Your Organization Align

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Organizational alignment occurs when all parts of an organization work together in a highly integrated way to achieve strategic business goals.

Highly aligned teams and organizations are a thing of beauty. Think how amazing and exciting it is to see these bands perform.

  • Synchronized swimming teams
  • Efficient supply teams
  • The most successful sports teams
  • Your favorite orchestra

All team members understand their roles and responsibilities. Their actions are fully synchronized with those of other members. Everything is organized and executed to achieve the desired objectives.

The band’s performance generates energy and excitement.

As noted in a blog post by the consulting and training firm LSA-Global:

“It shouldn’t be surprising that aligned businesses and teams consistently perform better, but our recent search for organizational alignment the results blew us away. Based on 410 companies across eight industries, highly aligned companies grow 58% faster and are 72% more profitable while outperforming non-aligned companies in customer loyalty, leadership effectiveness and employee engagement. employees.

Misalignment produces conflict, confusion, inefficiencies, and low morale.

The 7S model

When I taught college courses on organizational behavior, I used a version of the 7S model as a framework to help students understand the importance of alignment in organizations.

The 7S model first appeared in the book “The Art of Japanese Management” by Richard Pascale and Anthony Athos.

In the June 1980 issue of Business Horizons, Tom Peters, Bob Waterman and Julien Phillips published an article, “Structure is not organization” who discussed their views on the 7S model. This model became a basic tool of the consulting firm McKinsey, where Peters and Waterman worked as consultants and where it is called the 7S Framework.

The 7S model helps you see the big picture and the connections between seven important factors. Below is my version of the 7S model. Senior managers (the CEO and his direct reports) are those responsible for leading and aligning the organization.

Paul Thorton

The first S-factor that senior executives need to address is strategy. An effective strategy helps the company acquire and retain customers in a highly competitive market. If you get your strategy wrong, it will be difficult to meet your business goals and the needs of your customers.

Beyond strategy, senior executives must ensure that all other S-Factors are aligned with and supportive of corporate strategy. In highly aligned organizations, all S-Factors work together in an organized, systematic and integrated way.

Here are some examples of the relationships between and among the S-Factors.

  • Shared corporate values ​​should support the strategy and create the desired culture. Senior managers must model the desired values ​​and hold staff accountable to the same standards.
  • The organizational structure should utilize all the company’s resources in support of the company’s strategy. Staff need the skills and values ​​required to operate within the structure and implement the strategy.
  • Measurement and communication systems must provide accurate, relevant and timely information to employees (staff).
  • HR systems (hiring, promotion, training, rewards and recognition, and performance appraisal) must include required skills and shared values ​​in the evaluation criteria.

While good organizational alignment produces great results, poor alignment creates waste, inefficiency, and a lack of focus on strategic goals.

For example: During an offsite meeting to discuss strategy, a company discovered that less than 50% of its initiatives had a real connection to the company’s top five strategic objectives.

Senior managers must ensure that strategy, structure and systems work together in a highly integrated way. Additionally, they must ensure that employees have the knowledge, skills, and motivation to execute the strategy.

Implementation of change

A mistake that is often made occurs when a senior executive changes one of the S-factors but does not make corresponding changes to the other S-factors, failing to align things.

For example, if you implement a new performance management process, chances are that other S-factors will need to change. Questions like these need to be addressed:

  • Do managers and leaders have the skills to set goals, coach employees, and provide valuable feedback?
  • Will the systems provide timely feedback to employees and managers?
  • Are the reward and recognition systems aligned with the objectives of the new performance management process?

At every senior staff meeting, “alignment” should be a topic on the agenda. It is important to discuss issues such as the following:

  • Are our products and services aligned with the changing needs and wants of our customers?
  • Do the metrics indicate that our strategy is working?
  • Is the new initiative we are discussing in line with our strategy?
  • Do we have the right people in the right roles to execute the strategy?
  • Are there any ongoing turf wars that need to be addressed?
  • Is our behavior in the greater community consistent with our values?

How often do you discuss alignment in your team meetings?

However, no matter how much time and effort you put into creating organizational alignment, misalignments do happen. Some misalignments occur slowly; others happen quickly due to major changes such as acquisitions, mergers, high turnover, loss of a major customer, new competition and government regulations.

Misalignment leads to ineffective behaviors. People focused on the wrong goals and priorities. It also leads to waste due to conflict, confusion, and performing unnecessary tasks.

Quickly identifying and correcting misaligned initiatives, policies, and behaviors goes a long way in keeping employees focused on what’s important and what’s needed to achieve their goals.

Alignment can take your organization from “good” to “great”.

Paul B. Thornton has taught college courses in management and leadership for over 25 years. His latest e-books include:

He has produced 28 short films youtube videos on various management and leadership topics. Email him.

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