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Find information about a range of approaches to managing organisational change – from Action Learning Sets, to the 7s model.

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To view more click on the name of the model to expand to view more, including description, use, and strengths and limitations.

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  • 7S model


    This model identifies organisational components required to harmonise; if each supports the others the organisation is considered to be ‘organised’. The seven components, all of which are identified with words starting with the letter s, are:

    • Strategy – the plan of action which informs resource allocation to meet identified goals;
    • Structure – features of the organisational chart (such as the degree of centralisation / decentralisation, degree of hierarchy, presence or absence of an internal market) and their interconnections within the organisation
    • Systems – organisational processes and procedures, including the flow of information
    • Staff – job titles and responsibilities / duties within the organisation
    • Style – Senior managers behaviour intended to achieve organisational goals
    • Shared values – the values held in common by organisational members, and the extent to which they are consistent with organisational goals
    • Skills – the capabilities of staff


    The model is intended to be used in two ways:

    1. Organisational strengths and weaknesses may be considered by assessing the links between each of the Ss: as the model is primarily concerned with alignment, no S is a strength or weakness in itself; this may only be considered relationally. Harmonies between Ss are considered strengths, dissonances weaknesses.
    2. The model suggests that changes in any one S will have a reciprocal impact on the others. Thus any planned change should consider the necessary complementary changes required in other Ss to ensure harmony, and thus strength.

    Strengths and limitations

    The approach has been praised for its combination of ‘oft’ organisational components (staff, style, shared values and skills) as well as ‘hard’ factors (strategy, structure and systems), and its emphasis on the importance of organisational culture in enabling people to agree on what behaviour is acceptable. However, its’ usefulness has been challenged by others who argue that different viewpoints are important and if managed properly conflict and disagreement can lead to an organisation being stronger. In relation to social care change it will be primarily be of help in discussions with internal stakeholders in an organisation but could be adapted to have a broader view which incorporates the perspectives of external stakeholders include people accessing services.

    Further reading

    1. Hughes, D. (1996) NHS managers as rhetoricians: A case of culture management? Sociology of Health and Illness, 18, 3, 291-314
    2. Martin, J. (1992) Cultures in organisations: Three perspectives, New York: Oxford University Press
    3. Waterman, RH, Peters, TJ, and Phillips, JR (1980) Structure is not organisation, Business Horizons, June. Foundation for the School of Business, Indiana University