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History of the GROW Model

In the mid-to-late 1980s, Alan Fine, Graham Alexander, and Sir John Whitmore developed the GROW model—today one of the most recognised and influential coaching models in the world.

The model came about after Alan Fine, a professional tennis coach, realised that the most significant performance challenge for athletes was not that they did not know what to do, but instead that they did not do what they knew they should do. Fine realised that performance breakthroughs come from the inside.

GROW is an acronym representing the four core components of any significant decision-making process. All significant iterations of the model share the meanings of the first three letters.

G represents the goal an individual seeks to reach.

R stands for the realities a person should consider in the context of the decision-making process.

O refers to the options open to the decision-maker.

W has been interpreted in a variety of ways. Fine defined “W” as “Way Forward“—a specific action plan that he felt maximised the precision and proactivity of the GROW model. “The Way Forward makes the decision process something tangible and actionable, where it becomes very clear to the person making the decision what should happen next,” Fine says. “In the absence of motivating clarity,” he argues, “people simply don’t take action.”

The GROW model is constructed upon a deceptively simple insight: that breakthrough performance most frequently comes not from acquiring additional knowledge, but from removing internal interference that allows a person to act on what he or she already knows. Good decisions lead to practical actions, which lead to productive results. This phenomenon is often called “decision velocity”—referring to the speed and accuracy of decisions that drive individual and organisational performance.