The GROW Model

The GROW model (or process) is a technique for problem solving or goal setting. It was developed in the United Kingdom and was used extensively in the corporate coaching market in the late 1980s and 1990s.
GROW is very well known in the business arena but it also has many applications in everyday life. The particular value of GROW is that it provides an effective, structured methodology which both helps set goals effectively and is a problem solving process.
It can be used by anyone without special training. While there are many methodologies that can be used to address problems, the value of GROW is that it is easily understood, straightforward to apply and very thorough. In addition it is possible to apply it to a large variety of circumstances in a very effective way.

Stages of GROW

There are a number of different versions of the GROW model. This version presents one view of the stages but there are others. The ‘O’ in this version has two meanings.

“G” for Goal

This is the end point, where the client wants to be. The goal has to be defined in such a way that it is very clear to the client when they have achieved it. I should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and have a clear timeframe. E.g., “To bring my weight down to 120 pounds in three months and keep it down”.
Questions in this stage:

  • What do you really want?
  • How will you know when you have achieved it?
  • By when do you want to have your goal being achieved?
  • How will achieving this goal benefit you and other?

“R” for Reality

The Current reality is where the client is now. What are the issues, the challenges, how far are they away from their goal?
Questions in this stage:

  • What have you done already towards this goal?
  • What challenges have you already met and overcome to meet this goal?
  • What strenghts and skills do you have that would help you to achieve this goal?

“O” for Obstacles & Options

There will be Obstacles stopping the client getting from where they are now to where they want to go. If there were no Obstacles the client would already have reached their goal.
Questions in this stage:

  • What challenges do you expect?
  • What could make you fail?
  • What might stop you?

Once Obstacles have been identified, the client needs to find ways of dealing with them if they are to make progress. These are the Options.
Questions in this stage:

  • What could you do to achieve your goal?
  • What options do you have?
  • What else?
  • If you couldn’t fail to reach the goal, what would you do?
  • If you would really go for this goal, how would you do it?

Facing options almost certainly leads to inner resistance and uncovering of negative beliefs (e.g. “I don’t have .. time, ressources, money, support, ..). In this case you identify and feedback the negative belief (attention: carefully and based on evidence!) and question it deeper. E.g. “I have no money”: “you have no money what for exactly?” or “Do you really need money or could you identify other options towards the goal that don’t need money?”

“W” for Way Forward

The Options then need to be converted into action steps which will take the client to their goal. These are the Way Forward. Every coaching session should focus on gaining a commitment from the client towards taking action.
Questions in this stage:

  • Which of your options would be the fastest / easiest / preferred / have the biggest outcome?
  • How comfortable on a scale of 1-10 (where 10 is “yes, right now!”) do you feel taking this action?
    How committed are you to take action on a scale of 1 – 10?
    (everything below 7 needs to be questioned in more detail, there is an unspoken negative belief involved)
  • What could you do differently to get / feel more commitment?
  • When will you take action?

As with many simple principles any user of GROW can apply a great deal of skill and knowledge at each stage but the basic process remains as written above. There are numerous questions which the coach could use at any point and part of the skill of the coach is to know which questions to use and how much detail to uncover.


This is a very simple example of using the GROW model to achieve a goal. This example deals with weight loss. If the client wants: ‘To bring my weight down to 120 pounds in three months and keep it down’. That is their Goal. The more heart felt and personal, the more meaningful the goal is to the person and the more likely they will be to commit to and achieve the goal.

The GROW approach would then be to establish the Reality by stating what their weight is now. The coach would then ask awareness questions to deepen understanding of what is happening when the client tries to lose weight, thus identifying the Obstacles. These questions could include:

When you have been able to lose weight – what made the difference?

What is the difference between the times you are able to keep weight off and the times when you put it on again?

What would have to change for you to be sure you could lose the weight and keep it off?

If the client genuinely answers these questions they will discover new information about what works and does not work for them in terms of weight loss, and create some potential for change. It then becomes possible to create some strategies or Options which get around the Obstacles. These could include looking at which diets or exercise regimes work best, or finding a specific type of support. Once the client knows the strategies that are likely to work they can establish a Way Forward which involves taking action steps. This is where they commit to what they will do in the short term to put the strategies into effect. For instance, one action might be asking a particular person for support, and another might be to buy a different selection of foods.

The same principles can be applied whatever goal or problem the client has. GROW can be used on technical problems, issues regarding processes, strategy questions, interpersonal issues and many more. Almost any situation where there is something to be achieved and there is an Obstacle can be tackled with GROW. The model can also be used by a group who are all working on the same problem or goal.

Source: Wikipedia

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