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Problem-Solve with GROW

by Casey Daline


This summer I started taking coaching courses at a university near my home, and I’ve been loving it. Coaching focuses on the methods of problem-solving and getting “unstuck” (whether in a personal or professional setting), as opposed to getting into the weeds of management, counseling, or any specific practice. Because of that, I’ve found myself referring back to some of methodologies and practices I learned for coaching frequently in my professional life here at Pivot. Specifically, I revisit the GROW model often, and have sound it extremely useful in taking a complex or overwhelming issue out of the realm of theory (which is practically a synonym for worry) and grounding it reality, allowing me to decide on next steps.

That’s so often the problem with something we’re putting off or afraid of, isn’t it? It’s a looming storm cloud instead of a concrete issue with a goal, obstacles, and options for where you can go. Tackling issues methodically, step by step, helps them become concrete and manageable.

GROW is an acronym, representing Goal, Reality, Options, and Will (or Way forward). Here’s more information about each stage, and how to guide yourself through the process:

What is it that you’re trying to achieve? In this stage, don’t let any of the complications filter your view. What is it that you want, or where is it that you’re trying to get to? This step helps remind me of the simplicity of the situation, and brings clarity.

Where are you, right now? This is a good time to check your assumptions, and it is not a good time to get stuck in the mud about where you were, where you wish you were, etc. Reality check to see what your current reality is. Assess both yourself, and the issue at hand. Bring in relevant factor affecting the problem if needed. Explore the situation.

What could you do about this situation? This is a good time to give yourself a full range of options, and explore all the possibilities for how to approach the issue and the steps you could take, and possible outcomes or obstacles. What resources do you have? Who could you talk to? What similar situations have you faced in the past, and what did you do in those cases?

What will be done, when, by whom? Now you have explored all your options, and the benefits and pitfalls of each. What action will you take, and by when? All your brainstorming becomes productive when you put it into action. Set yourself up for success by setting a specific plan with a specific timeline.

Using this process has proved to be a tremendous help to me: as I examine a problem step by step, I find the challenge becomes more manageable, options clearer, and a solution more accessible. Next time you face an issue at work that feels vague or overwhelming, I encourage you to tackle it a piece at a time, using GROW.

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