Need more focus? Try the GROW model…

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Picture by Keith Ellwood via Flickr

Picture by Keith Ellwood via Flickr

When’s the last time you felt stuck when it came to resolving a challenge? Every day we’re faced with decisions. Most of them are quick and easy – things that you decide on almost an unconscious level. However we’re also faced with much more difficult decisions on a regular basis. How do you grow your business? (Or make more money?) Should I hire more people? Where should I go on vacation?

If you had plenty of time and no other distractions, then most of your challenges wouldn’t be that hard to resolve, but life doesn’t work that way. Instead everyday chaos makes sure it’s difficult to find the time to concentrate and figure out what needs to be done. And it’s pretty common that your challenges, goals, opportunities and problems will all pile on at the same time – which is why we feel overwhelmed, stressed and…stuck.

Of course a great way to deal with that and to be more focused overall is to work with a coach.  😉

But there are also some great tools you can apply on your own (or to help other people). One of those is the GROW model – a quick and easy way to focus. I learned about it from Alan Fine in his book You Already Know How to Be Great (next month’s Business Book Review). I don’t know that he invented it, but he certainly gets credit for developing and sharing it.

Here’s how Alan Fine describes the GROW process:

“Basically, it is a map of human decision making. It provides a simple way to create Focus, reduce interference and improve performance in any area of life.”

You make decisions every day, but more than likely you don’t consciously follow a process to make that decision. But if you want to improve your performance, make better decisions more quickly, then following a simple process is a great way to do that.

The GROW Model

GROW Model

GROW simply stands for the steps in the process:

  • Goal (what do you want to do?)
  • Reality (where are you now?)
  • Options (how could you move from your reality to your goal?)
  • Way Forward (what actions will you take?)

Obviously it’s a very simple model, but the power lies in the simplicity and the structure. Most decisions you make might cover all of these steps, but they typically aren’t sequential…it’s easy to jump around – you might start with Reality (I’m out of shape) then jump to Goal (I want to work out more) then you think about Options…then jump back to Reality and maybe you even reset your Goal along the way. The end result is often chaotic and unfocused – you might end up with a clear direction but it’s not easy. The GROW model won’t guarantee quick and easy decisions, but by consciously and purposely following a process you will end up with better results.

Here are some questions or things to think about in each step of the model:


  • What issue do I want to work through? What problem am I trying to solve?
  • What do I want to get out of this GROW session? (be focused and specific)
  • What are the consequences if I don’t take action?
  • Your goal should be in a SMART format (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Time-Bound)


  • Briefly, what’s been happening?
  • What’s been tried so far? What were the results?
  • What are the obstacles?
  • How might others describe the situation (different viewpoint)?
  • Is the Goal still realistic?


  • What would take me from Reality to my goal?
  • If you had a magic wand, what would you do? (think big)
  • If the situation impacts others, how do they need to be involved? What do they care about?
  • If you were counselling a friend on this issue, what would you tell them?
  • What else could you do?
  • What are the advantages or disadvantages to each option?
  • Do any of these options interest me enough to explore in more detail?

Way Forward

  • Do any of the options interest me enough to take action? (If not you’ll need to start over or give up).
  • What specific actions need to be taken on the option I select? What else?
  • What might get in my way and how could I deal with that?
  • Specifically what, when, where is my next step?
  • Make sure you put dates and expectations on your plan.

The GROW model was initially developed to be used as a coaching / discussion tool to help others work through their challenges. There are a lot of benefits to getting a different perspective, especially when it comes to the Reality and Options step (and for accountability on the Way Forward). That said, it can also be used effectively on your own. And…it’s applicable for all sorts of challenges – both personal and business related. With some practice using the GROW model will become almost second nature.

Do you have a challenge or an issue facing you right now? Maybe you should carve out some time and try the GROW model on your problem. Let us know how it worked or if you have any questions – we’d love to hear from you.

Shawn Kinkade   Kansas City Business Coach