Friday, October 25, 2013

The GROW Model

The GROW model is a tool to help you achieve the goals that you set. If you give it 10 seconds of thought, achieving your goals is some kind of tiny, micro, nano Project Management, isn't it? I mean, in a Project you also have some goal to achieve (usually called deliverables) and you have to came up with some way to achieve it. So, how does this GROW model work? Where, when and how can you use it?


A good way to start finding about stuff that's new is the Wikipedia (at least I find it so). Just in case, please check out their page about the GROW model. In short, it says that this tools is about 30 years old (kind of recent), it has a range of authors instead of a single author, it is used for different purposes (from coaching to problem solving) and that GROW stands for Goal, Reality, Options and Will. (or other stuff, depending on the source and origin of the particular model you're using - but in essence it's pretty much the same). So basically it goes like this: when you set a goal you should also check: 1)  how far you are from it, 2) the different paths that can take you there and 3) what will it take to get there. Pretty straight forward, right? Right, but also pretty powerful as you'll see in a moment.
As this model doesn't have a single author, don't look at it as exactly what is described here, but view this as a general setting for a tool you can adapt and fit for each particular use you make of it.


First, work on your goal. You know what you want, but work on it nevertheless so at least you make it SMART, meaning Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound (more on SMART objectives on Wikipedia here). Why do you need to complicate things if you already know what your goal is? In essence, you need it in order to be easy to say when you achieve your goal. If your goal is to run a 10 Km race, will you consider it done the next time you actually jog for 10 Km? Or when you participate in a 10 Km race with others? Or maybe when you run it under 1 hour? Or will it count only in an official race?
For this example, we're setting the goal to be: To run the 10 Km race 3 weeks from now under 1 hour.


Then comes the Reality part: where do you stand? Now? How far is your goal? For instance, suppose you want to run the next 10 Km race nearby under 1 hour. Reality, in this case, would be the time you're now taking to run 10 Km. Again, pretty straight forward. So put your running shoes on, get out and check out how long you take to run 10 Km, OK? Some of details you have to take care are:
  • How will you measure the 10 Km?
  • Does a straight 10 Km count? Or does it have to include some hills? In that case, how much climbing?
In the end, there's nothing much to it, but still you do have to figure out some details about where you stand.


The general idea is to explore alternative ways to achieve your goal. Following this 10 Km run example, how can you get to do it under 60 minutes? Several alternative (and maybe cumulative) ways occur. Maybe you can:

  • practice by follow some program to train and get to run 10 Km under 1 hour
  • lose weight (just in case you have a few extra pounds)
  • pay attention to your eating habits (it's probably a bad idea drinking any kind of alcohol at least a couple of days before the event)

In general, think about possible scenarios to get from where you are to your goal. What different ways to you have to get there? What different difficulties? What different resources?


And finally, what do you have to do in order to get there, according to the options (one or more) you have selected? What are the sequential steps? Who do you have to get involved? How much will you spend? What resources will you have to get? Back to the 10 Km run, these could be:
  • schedule every weekday from 6 to 7 PM to practice
  • implement a meal planner so you can easily control the amount of ingested calories

What about Project Management?

If you're managing projects, you have probably noticed that you *occasionally* have some kind of a challenge, something you really don't know how to deal with. In fact, projects always deal with a degree of novelty and uncertainty that in practice grants a challenge to whoever is managing it. For instance, the definition of a project, as included in the Project Management Body Of Knowledge (PMBOK) by the the Project Management Institute, includes a "unique" service or result. And if the end result of a project is unique, I'd bet you'd find a challenge to some degree in there...
So these are all good candidates for this tool as long as you can set a goal, a SMART goal. The applications can vary hugely but you can start dealing with your project challenges with this GROW tool. By the way, and just as a curiosity, this tool is not mentioned in the 5th Edition of the PMBOK.
And finally, just to show you how much the application scope can vary, you can use this tool to help decide on an approach to send people to Mars or to fix some technical software implementation. Just as long as you can set a SMART goal... you can use it!

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