The GROW model

Grow modelThe GROW Model provides a very simple framework for goal setting and strategy development. Whilst its most common use is for coaching and mentoring, the simplicity of the model makes it handy for lots of other things, including:

  • Personal development
  • Change management
  • Business growth
  • Team leadership
  • Problem solving

How to use the GROW model

GROW provides a structured approach for thinking through a transformation from the current state to a new, more desirable state.

At a personal level, I can use GROW to work out what I need to do to move from dad bod (current state) to my desired future state (chiselled six pack abs of course!).

GROW can also be used at an organisational level, for example a business could use the model to resolve their reputation for poor customer experience (current state) and become an exemplar for great customer service (desired future state).

Each letter in the acronym represents a different stage of thinking:

G –Goal

R – Reality

O – Options

W – Way forward

Note: Some people (including myself) like to include an additional ‘O’ representing Obstacles.

Here’s what to think about at each stage:

G – Goal

This is the desired outcome or future state that the user wants to get to. You could think of it as the destination at the end of the journey. It is important that the goal is very clearly defined, so that the user is clear when they have achieved it.

R – Reality

This is the current state, where the user is now. It describes the context and circumstances that they want to move away from and acts as a baseline for measuring progress.

O – Obstacles

These are the key problems preventing the user from moving away from the current state. For example, I can’t lose my beer belly because I like beer and pizza too much!

Obstacles could be covered in the Reality stage, but I prefer to call them out specifically so that they can be diagnosed in detail.

O – Options

Once the Obstacles are well understood, it becomes easier to think about different ways to get around them. Ideally the user will have a range of options to consider, with the chosen option(s) acting as the Way Forward.

Another way to look at the options is to think of them as different strategies, each with their own pro’s and con’s.

W – Way Forward

These are the coherent action steps that will be implemented for the chosen option (or strategy).


So there you have it. GROW, a nice and simple approach for stating where you want to get to, where you are now, what is preventing you from getting to the desired destination, what are the potential ways to overcome the obstacles and what the plan is for getting there.

Tracking progress and pivoting

One potential drawback of this simple model is that it doesn’t cover execution – particularly in terms of tracking the effectiveness of the action steps and potentially pivoting to a different option if the first option doesn’t pan out.

To overcome this, I recommend combining GROW with Goal Systems, so that you have both the strategy development and strategy execution sides covered.

Further reading

GROW for coaching and development

History of the GROW model