McKinsey Quarterly

Enduring Ideas: Classic McKinsey frameworks that continue to inform management thinking

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Ever since strategy arose as a managerial discipline in the 1960s, business leaders have been honing their analysis of where and how to compete, grow, and best manage their organizations. Strategic and organizational models or frameworks help inform these decisions, offering shorthand for qualitative analysis of potential scenarios and insight on what options to adopt.

Today’s complex business environment has rendered some of these models obsolete, but others have endured. In this series of interactive presentations, McKinsey Quarterly presents a selection of frameworks, highlighting their origin, utility, and lasting relevance.

GE–McKinsey nine-box matrix
GE–McKinsey nine-box matrix: Kevin Coyne, a McKinsey alumnus and senior adviser to the firm on strategy, describes the GE–McKinsey nine-box matrix. Read more about the nine-box matrix.


7-S: Lowell Bryan, a director in McKinsey’s New York office, reflects on 7-S, a framework introduced in the late 1970s to address the critical role of coordination, rather than structure, in organizational effectiveness. Read more about 7-S.


The Business System
The business system: McKinsey alumnus Kevin Coyne describes how the business system framework can facilitate the creation of a truly integrated business strategy. Read more about the business system.


Industry Cost Curve
Industry cost curve: McKinsey director Rob Latoff offers insight into the industry cost curve, a business school classic for understanding pricing. By bringing discipline and a practical set of definitions to bear, this framework can be applied to real-world, competitive markets. Read more about the industry cost curve.


SCP: John Stuckey, a director emeritus in McKinsey’s Sydney office, comments on SCP, a framework whose origin dates back to the 1930s. This framework depicts the influence of an industry’s structure (for example, the growth of demand and barriers to entry) on the conduct of producers (pricing, for example) and the performance of both the industry and the producers. Read more about SCP.


Strategic Control Map
The strategic control map: McKinsey director Lowell Bryan describes the strategic control map, a framework that tracks the dynamics of market capitalization within industries. Read more about the strategic control map.


The three horizons of growth
The three horizons of growth: The three horizons framework illustrates how to manage for current performance while maximizing future opportunities for growth. Read more about the three horizons of growth.


The portfolio of initiatives
The portfolio of initiatives: McKinsey director Lowell Bryan discusses how the portfolio-of-initiatives framework offers a way to develop strategy in a more fluid, less predictable environment. Read more about the portfolio of initiatives.


Consumer Decision Journey
Consumer decision journey: David Court, a director in McKinsey’s Dallas office, describes the consumer decision journey—a sophisticated tool for marketers facing an explosion of product choices and digital channels, coupled with the emergence of an increasingly discerning, well-informed consumer. Read more about the consumer decision journey.