GROW for success

GROW for success

Modern teenager

Modern teenager

Have you ever met a single teenager that manages to listen to everything you say and then apply it? If you do, then you are the lucky one.

Teenagers represent the phase in life the most, when we do not like to be told what to do and are even worse at applying it!

This continues as we GROW older as we correctly question our surroundings and seek applicability of information to suit our individual needs at the time.

The same can is seen in how people interact with their goals. The aim may be clear and a system very robust to create success, however our willingness to pursue and follow through step to step becomes a weak point and goals are not attained.

The simplicity of the GROW model makes it easily understood across the whole organization. This alone is a significant reason for its continued success.
— James Doyle Founder of JAMSO

There are many robust goal setting systems across the world. Some come and go or evolve (see our articles on SMARTER and WOOP).

The GROW system continues to be applied with success for almost 40 years. The model is the result from several influencers in the performance field and has great application relevance in the business world or with clear goal orientated environments.

GROW acronym_result.jpg


One of the key beneficial aspect from GROW is the need to break down key steps of a process. Behavior, habit and focus should instigate a desired outcome.

The identification of key process steps can be found through basic analysis and questioning. The potential to apply gamification within the GROW system has to date being under-utilized despite a clear benefit and supportive advantage.

GROW Acronym

  • G Goal
  • R Reality (current status)
  • O Options and Obstacles
  • W Way forward and Will

To apply GROW within a simple business setting see this example:

From the company vision and mission, design a strategy. The strategy will clarify areas to create goals and future desire states. The (G Goal) is designed using SMARTER techniques. A review of the current status and performance is generated (R Reality). Based on the gap between the goal and the current performance state, the business reviews the different resources and methods to raise performance (O Options and obstacles). The business then designs the correct priority and incentives to motivate and clarify the direction for future actions (W Way forward / Will).

G The Importance of Goal Setting

A vision and mission in life and business are great but become meaningless unless supported with a good strategy and clear defined goals. Goals can vary in cost, time, resources and effort so relative research and consideration should be given to these points. For a large impactful goal be prepared for more support and prioritization over other areas of life and business.

Top Tips:

  • Understand what will not be done whilst priority is given to impactful goals.
  • Use the SMARTER goal setting system to ensure correct consistency and design structure of goals.

Key Questions:

  1. Are our vision, mission and strategy still relevant and up to date?
  2. What are the most positive impactful goals relevant to benefit all areas of our business and clients?

R Measuring the real performance current status



A significant factor of the GROW model success is within this step, it has also been the reasons for failure.

Taking a review of current performance level is important and must be conducted correctly.

Establishing repeatable measurement systems and accurate results are the corner stones of future decisions.

Where any inaccuracy exists within the measurement system, then this should be stated clearly as a tolerance measure parameter.

You now have a measured base line distance from your current position to the future expected goal performance.

Top Tips:

  • We advise to ensure statistically valid samples are taken of the current status.  
  • Ensure calibration of measurement systems to retain high confidence in the findings.

Key Questions:

  1. What have you tried different so far to reach this current performance level?
  2. What else is not measured but could impact the result?

O Developing options and removing obstacles

Using a similar process to the WOOP model, GROW asks the system users to identify the key obstacles from reaching the future desired goal outcome. Factual information checks and opinions should be understood and presented as such. The use of benchmarking is of good use when using comparative measures and understanding options. Other common approaches can be resources (financial and manpower) which can then be redistributed according to the priority of the goal and impact to the business.

Top Tips:

  • For key obstacles presented as opinions, use the SWOT analysis tool to qualify the impact on the goal.
  • Remain optimistic on the eventual goal outcome.

Key Questions:

  1. Which options have the biggest potential impact for our clients and business stakeholders?
  2. What alternatives do we have for each obstacle?
  3. W creating the will power and way forward

W Creating the willpower and way forward

No matter the weather, the will to work remains

No matter the weather, the will to work remains

The leadership of a business relies on clarity, energy and action. The W part of GROW therefore is the step that leaders need to be most engaged with.

Defining a clear series of tactical steps to support the overall goal needs to have the relevant support, commitment and resources applied.

The clarity of a clear actionable document or performance board with consistent timely review will keep the goal on track.

Recognition to occasional external effects and their impacts on the way forward may require the leadership to review the GROW goal process once more.

Engaging questions, seeking development and training of improved skills whilst implementing the GROW model generates a higher acceptance and adoption rate of its goal.

Top Tips:

  • Gamification should be a serious consideration for every organization to retain will power and communicate a way forward.
  • Ensure a review period of your GROW process is at least annually

Key Questions:

  1. How will motivation and commitment be measured in future for this goal?
  2. What is the best method of recording and rewarding positive results towards the goal?

The power of questions with GROW

The coaching community remains the biggest consumer of the GROW model. The reason is simple. GROW allows and encourages questions as a facilitator role looking objectively at a challenge or goal. Through the use of questions you define absolute facts and explore new possibilities.

The most effective structure to ask questions are through the use of open and closed questions.

Closed questions require a YES or NO answer.

Examples include

  • Should you _?
  • Will you_?
  • May I _?
  • Is that_?

Open questions require an explanation within the answer.

Examples include.

  • Who _ ?
  • What _ ?
  • Where _ ?
  • When  _ ?
  • Why _ ?
  • Which _ ?
  • How _ ?

Training and developing skills in questioning is important, as is being prepared to become an active listener to the responses.

What is your way forward?

You now have the basic skills and references to create and try a new GROW goal. The success of this model is best applied in areas where clear competition or results are expected. I suggest you try the system yourself with the knowledge shared within this article. We write these articles to help stimulate the reader into action for performance improvement.

I would love to hear of any questions you have on this article. Simply make a note in the comments below, email or send us a Tweet.

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James Doyle

James Doyle

JAMSO helps people and business improve performance. Our clients engage with us in areas from goal setting to metrics, key performance indicators and analytics to strategy.



We help connect the dots from vision and values through smarter goal setting techniques to deliver unique solutions that raise performance for the short and long term benefits. We offer consultancy and training across the world for short term or long term projects, workshops and challenges. Special focus to help manufacturing and Fintech companies has been the back bone of JAMSO although we offer our services across any industry and to all personal leaders. 

Written by James Doyle, founder of JAMSO, success consultant and trainer. We have over 100 free articles, tools and resources for your success, including a great newsletter, subscribe now.

Build the base and grow from there

Build the base and grow from there