Kick Your Startup into High Gear With These 7 Tactics
Over thirty years ago, McKinsey & Co. introduced a concept commonly referred to as the 7-Ss. It is a combination of minor and major factors that management can manipulate to improve and alter the organizations they are in charge of. Even though McKinsey & Co. was well-known as an international consultation firm, they designed their framework to be usable by businesses both large and small.
Each of the 7-Ss are factors that constitute any business, no matter its size or how long it has existed. The 7-Ss stand for:
– Strategy: which subset of customers a company has chosen to serve and how it plans to do so better than its competitors.
– Structure: how employees are organized. They can be organized based on such criteria as by function or by product.
– Systems: these are used to measure the company’s performance and to determine how best to motivate and reward employees.
– Skills: these are what a company is good at and can mean anything from manufacturing to selling to marketing.
– Staff: the men and women who make up a company’s workforce.
– Style: how administrators prefer to run their area of management. There are countless management styles, from the traditional “command and control” standpoint to guided employee autonomy.
– Shared Values: the organization’s purpose and the common ideal that links its employees together.
Hard and Soft S’s
The 7-S’s combine core factors, referred to as “hard S’s,” and lesser factors, called “soft S’s,” based on which factors are more critical to the business’s infrastructure as a whole. This is not to detract from each category’s importance, however, as it is recommended to start with the softer S’s: staff, style and shared values.
One example of the effectiveness of this approach is the story of Gary Ambrosino, who joined the company TimeTrade in 2010 as CEO. TimeTrade is a matchmaking service that matches unresolved customer issues with a matching service expert who can solve the problem. Ambrosino’s idea was to transform TimeTrade into something similar to Apple’s “genius bar,” which is designed for people who need technical help with their devices.
The Genius Bar allows customers to mingle with other customers and Apple Store employees or watch videos with technical tips on television nearby while they wait for service. Over the course of five years, TimeTrade sold the service to seven of the largest banks and eight of the largest retailers in America. This was also a time of great expansion, with the company growing from 20 people to 100 in the same timeframe.
How Did Ambrosino Do It?
Ambrosino is well-educated, having studied in both Cornell and Harvard. He also has more than 30 years of experience running electronics companies under his belt, over which he developed the 7-S’s, divided into structural and leadership elements. The most important point for Ambrosino was the Shared Values, which he also referred to as a common vision.
This is because the most important aspect of the company was why it even exists. What it was trying to accomplish and how it was going to accomplish it was essential to improving employee performance as they get lost in the daily routine.
Ambrosino focused more on communication than dominance. By doing so, employees feel they have a say in what the company does, even if it is to a small extent. By communicating, listening and adapting, this places some faith in employees and makes them feel like they actually matter.
This approach also helps when hiring staff as well. TimeTrade benefits because its employees will actively search for new talent to work at the company and TimeTrade now has a bargaining chip with new hires: a positive company culture. This establishes the difference between the soft Ss and the Hard Ss. The soft Ss help unite and optimize employees while the hard Ss help employee efficiency through motivation and rewarding exemplary staff.
A company can use structure and systems to help it stay on track as it hires new people from outside sources. This is especially helpful the larger the company gets. If you have a workforce of 500 people, not all of them are going to agree on how business should be conducted. An effective communication system is especially important.
TimeTrade is not a particularly large company, but its explosive growth in such a short time span is still worth examining. The best way to boost your company’s growth is to first change its staff, style and shared values to motivate your workforce and point them in the right direction, then change your company’s strategy, structure, systems and skills to make obtaining your company’s shared vision easier and more efficient.