GROW: The Ultimate Map for Decision Making

As you try to make improvements in your life, you may be looking at doing more, doing less, or doing things differently. Improvement requires you to take more action, less action, or a different action. To get to different actions, we have to start with a different decision. The faster and more accurately we get to action, the faster and more accurately we can get to results.

Decision making can be messy and complicated and a map of how to make the decision can be extremely useful in navigating the decision-making process. Owning our role in the decision-making process and using a systematic process to navigate it, the faster and more accurately we can get to that decision.

GROW Brings Focus to Decision Making

One simple and user-friendly map to help navigate the decision-making process is the GROW® Model. GROW is a map of the four stages we all go through when making any decision.

GROW brings to decision making the most critical part of all human performance—focus. Focus drives everything we do. Everyone goes through the steps of GROW (unconsciously or consciously). The only choice we have is how we navigate through these stages. Choosing to use the map in a disciplined and systematic way creates focus more quickly which impacts the decision making, that leads to the action, that delivers results.

Mapping Decisions with GROW

Just how effective is GROW® in helping you make decisions? Let’s map out three common day-in-the-life examples.


Joe, an executive in his company, is concerned that his daughter’s grades are significantly lower on her report cards lately. Using the GROW Model, he maps out the conversation he is going to have in his mind. This process helps make the conversation more productive because it does not start with any misconceptions from his perspective and is more focused on honoring his daughter and her perspective.

• GOAL — First, Joe defines the goal, which is not really about her grades, but about wanting the best for her and her success.

• REALITY — Now that he is clear on the goal, he asks for, and listens carefully to, her reality. Through that process, he hears things and gets a broader understanding of where she’s at, which is unexpected for him. He finds out that she has been spending too much time socializing. She is even more disappointed with her academic results than Joe is, but she can’t let go of her need to be accepted socially.

• OPTIONS — Joe and his daughter then look at options. Instead of telling her what he thinks she should do, Joe allows her to come up with her own options. As Joe hears her suggested options, he feels his daughter is competent and aware of solving the issue on her own. When she asks Joe if he has any advice, he says he doesn’t and wants to support her and her options.

• WAY FORWARD — Together, they establish a Way Forward by her choosing to act on the options she presented. After the conversation, Joe realizes that by clarifying the goal and understanding her reality he discovered that she had the competency to overcome the problem.


The marketing department of a major credit card company was trying to launch an event within a specific timeframe. The sales department said the timeframe was unrealistic given the number of people that needed to be scheduled and the conversations that needed to take place. As the two teams entered a dialogue, they used GROW to guide their thinking and the conversation they were having.

• GOAL — Immediately, the two teams realized that they needed to first clarify the goal for the event together.

• REALITY — Once the goal was clarified, they reviewed their reality to gain an understanding of what was happening from each team’s point of view. Through this dialogue, both teams learned that sales was planning a training conference the week before and they were low on resources. In addition, the event was being held in an area not staffed by the sales team.

• OPTIONS — Knowing these issues, marketing and sales then explored their options. It was a collaborative and engaging process.

• WAY FORWARD — Both teams had an understanding of the combined reality and were able to come up with a mutually agreed upon Way Forward that enabled them to accomplish their goal and create a win for the organization.

In both of these situations, the nuts and bolts of the decision making was the same. When we are consciously systematic about moving through the stages of GROW, we do it with more awareness and we come to a faster, more accurate decision that leads to action and results.

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