How Fractional Consultants Can Use the 7-S Framework
Check out how fractional consultants can utilize the 7-S Framework to more fully understand businesses.
Trust: The Currency of Relationships
Now more than ever, people’s beliefs and values are the determining factor behind their decisions. In fact, 60% of people will work for a company based on their beliefs and values.
If you’re a fractional consultant, you may have chosen consulting so you can partner with organizations who share your values.
Business leaders want the same thing from those they work with. They want their vision, values, and mission to overlap with those of their employees and consultants. They want to work with people they can trust.
We think Simon Sinek said it best, “Value, by definition, is the transference of trust. You can’t convince someone you have value, just as you can’t convince someone to trust you. You have to earn trust by communicating and demonstrating that you share the same values and beliefs.”
One of the best ways to create lasting impact as a fractional consultant is by operating according to the values you share with businesses and ensuring they are staying true to their values.
The key to this is highlighting what their values are, so you can help their business embody them and establish trust.
The 7-S Framework: An Overview
One of the best barometers to determine what a business’s values are is the McKinsey 7-S Framework. Developed in the 1970s by former McKinsey consultants Thomas J. Peters and Robert H. Waterman, the 7-S Framework is a tool that helps businesses analyze and coordinate their “organizational effectiveness.”
The 7-S’s are
- Style: The way that an organization does things
- Skills: The organization’s and employees’ skills and specializations
- Systems: The processes in the organization (the tangible and intangible systems)
- Structure: The hierarchy within an organization
- Staff: The people within the organization (these include full-time employees, contractors, etc.)
- Strategy: What an organization is doing to achieve a competitive edge
- Shared Values: What they are trying to achieve through their organization, why they want to achieve it, and what kind of legacy they want to leave behind
Although these elements are interconnected and impact each other, Shared Values is in the center of the framework, which underscores their importance to the overall structure of the business. Shared Values are not merely a company’s values, they are what the company was founded upon and why it exists.
Particularly as a fractional consultant, understanding and applying the 7-S Framework to businesses can revolutionize the way you work and help you truly understand the businesses.
You can filter everything in the organization through their proposed Shared Values. You have fresh eyes on the business, so you can see if their Shared Values truly are a guideline for their employees’ behavior, their strategic priorities, their opportunities for growth, and their contingency plans. You can recognize the areas they are having integrity in their Shared Values and where they are in danger of losing it.
How To Determine a Business’s Shared Values
Certainly, the 7-S Framework is a valuable tool, but, if you are talking with a business leader who is unfamiliar with it, you will need to determine what their Shared Values are before you can highlight how the 7-S Framework can help them.
One way to unearth a business’s Shared Values is to apply the following procedure.
- Determine a business’s founding principles and ask those in leadership:
- Why did you originally start your business?
- What did you want to change in the world?
- Who did you want to help?
- Gather their mission and vision statements and their list of values, and ask them:
- What is the overarching thread tying these business pillars together?
- If everything within the business was infused with these elements, how would you impact those you serve?
- After having this discussion, you should have a phrase that describes the business’s Shared Values. Keep the original phrase the business leaders produced, but go back and transform it yourself. Highlight how their Shared Values are perceived by an outsider and illustrate the ways it is accurate (or not) through their current processes and business strategy.
Using this lens, you can quickly illustrate the ways a business can strengthen its integrity and establish trust with consumers through their Shared Values as they scale. You won’t just implement a “strategic plan” as a fractional consultant, you’ll be helping a small business multiply itself, which creates long-lasting value.