In Search of Excellence: Peters and Waterman


To analyse the German and Allied armies I used the 7 - S - model of Peters and Waterman of McKinsey & Company. The 7-S-model is based on a study of success factors in sixty-four organizations. Their research showed that successful organizations keep things simple: a simple structure, simple strategies, simple communications, and so on. Such
organizations have the following characteristics:

  • Strong action and task-oriented
  • Simple structure with limited staff departments
  • Constant and intensive contact with customers
  • Increased productivity through investing in people
  • A high degree of autonomy for various departments to make full use of their entrepreneurship
  • Strong emphasis on what the company stands for (its core values)
  • Focus on the things the company is good at
  • Being at the same time flexible and rigid: hard on achieving targets and accountability, but giving freedom on how to reach
    these goals

As we will see, this reads much like the guiding principles of the Prussian/German Army; or put in another way, the organizations
researched by Peters and Waterman all share the characteristics of the Prussian/German Army. 


The 7 - S - model they developed had the following dimensions:

  • S = Strategy
  • S = Structure
  • S = Systems
  • S = Staff
  • S = Skills
  • S = Style
  • S = Shared values

These dimensions cover all aspectst of the organization, beeing the 'hard' elements as Structure and Systemss or the soft as Style and Shared values.


Read more about this model and the way I used it in my book 'The German Way of War. A Lesson in tactical management' published by Pen & Sword.