What Is It?
The 7-S Framework is a useful tool that describes seven key interdependent variables of organizational design. These variables take into account both the hardware (strategy, structure and systems) and the software (management styles, staff, skills and shared values, i.e. culture) of an organization. The framework can be used as a basis for discussion about organizational capacity and organizational design with relevant stakeholders within the organization. Special attention must be given to the relationships between the seven variables.
What Is It?
The 7-S framework
|Strategy||The direction and scope of the company over the long term.|
|Structure||The basic organization of the organization (who reports to whom) to support its objectives.|
|System||The formal and informal procedures that support the strategy and structure. The procedures, processes and routines that characterize how the work should be done, i.e. financial systems, recruiting, promotion and performance appraisal, information systems, budgeting systems.|
|Style||The leadership approach of management and how key managers behave in achieving the organization’s goals.|
|Staff||The company's human resources and how they are developed, trained and motivated.|
|Skills||The capabilities and competencies that exist within the company. What it does best.|
|Shared values||The values and beliefs of the company. The central guiding concept and ideas of an organization around which it is strengthened.|
To accurately assess the capacity of an organization.
A documented assessment of organizational capacity and how any gaps are impacting on organizational performance and the potential to achieve desired outcomes.
- A key weakness of the 7-S framework is its failure to look at the external environment. In practice, there are a number of external issues that need to be considered, e.g:
- Supportive legislative structures: Do new laws need to be introduced to enable agency formation?
- Wider policy context: How does the institutional reform being implemented fit in with other reforms in progress?
- Other aspects of the wider institutional context: For example, how do informal institutions in society impact on the organization’s culture and design?
- It is important to remain focused in asking appropriate questions that will provide sufficient detail to assess the identified organizational capacity gaps.
A well-prepared series of questions that will be asked of key staff within the organization.
Low to medium; the assessment is with individuals or within a focus group.
- Identify key stakeholders within an organization and relevant experts.
- Gather data on each of the seven areas, based on desk research and interviews with key stakeholders throughout the organization. Key questions to ask may include:
|Strategy||Clarity of vision and goals guiding the organization? Extent to which these are shared amongst staff? Level of participation in the formulation of these? Short-term goals to achieve strategy?|
|Structure||Organization of functions and roles of main departments and units? Definitions of roles and responsibilities? Mechanisms for participation of key stakeholders – staff, government, civil society? Is the structure supportive of strategic and organizational goals?|
|System||Effectiveness of human, financial and technological systems that support objectives? Nature of incentives within human resources? Rewards systems? Monitoring and evaluation systems?|
|Style||The management style; how do managers make decisions? How do they spend their time? On what do they focus their attention? Extent to which there is a supportive environment for staff? Level of communication?|
|Staff||Effectiveness of staff utilization? Adequacy of staff resources? Level of staff motivation? Factors that would increase staff satisfaction?|
|Skills||What is the organization best at? Nature of the task requirements and individual skills or knowledge needed for task effectiveness? Adequacy of the task–skill match? Opportunities for training or knowledge sharing?|
|Shared values||Nature of the rules (formal and informal), values, customs and principles that guide the organization's behaviour? Extent to which core professional values are internalized?|
- Summarise the findings in a report to key organization members involved in the interview process. This report can be used as a basis for further discussion of capacity needs at the organizational level. A useful reporting framework may be:
|Organizational capacity||Required action and current capacity to perform action|
|Strategic direction clearly laid down through legislation, but poor understanding of strategic direction within organization leading to confused on-ground outcomes and overlapping responsibilities with other natural resource management agencies.
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Required capacity to achieve action outcomes:
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DFID (2003) Promoting Institutional and Organizational Development: A Source Book of Tools and Techniques. Department for International Development, London.
ECDPM and DSI/AI (nd) Institutional Development: Learning by Doing and Sharing. European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM) and Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Poverty Policy and Institutional Development Division, Maastricht.
Lusthaus, C., Adrien, M., Anderson, G. and Carden, F. (1999) Enhancing Organizational Performance: A Toolbox for Self-Assessment. International Development Research Centre, Ottawa.