GROW your planning

Aug 23, 2018  ·  Richard Scott-Will-Harknett

There are many approaches to carrying out planning. Here's what I use for situations that require any kind of planning at all - from working across organisational transformation to figuring out what to do at the weekend. I like it because it’s simple, easy to remember and it sets me up naturally to think from the outcome back to how I’ll execute. I’ve introduced and used it to help a CEO shape an organisational redesign, with standard agile team iteration planning, and almost daily as a simple mental model I use to think things through. It works for individuals and for teams. It's called GROW.

G - what is the GOAL that we are trying to achieve? Why are we doing this at all? Who cares and why does it matter to them? Why does it matter to us that we deal with this?

R - what's our current REALITY? What is actually happening right now? What and who will help or hinder us in achieving the goal? What other commitments or other liabilities do we have that will take our time and attention? What degree of our capacity can we focus on this goal? What else is coming up that could impact us and get in the way of achieving the goal?

O - given what we now understand of the goal and our current reality, what OPTIONS present themselves? What are the various approaches we could take to achieving the goal and what are their respective merits and downsides?

W - finally having assessed the options in the context of our current reality and the goal, what WORK will we commit to doing to achieve the goal? Which option will we select and what's the plan to execute it to a successful achievement of the goal?

By the time you’ve gone through step four , the W step, you should have a sound plan that takes account of all the existing constraints as well as the risks of the selected approach to deliver to the goal.

This seems like a one pass sequential process. It's not. As new knowledge is created through exploring each step you may realise that previous steps need to be adapted. This is both to be expected and is desirable. The key is not to get stuck in that loop. Just as in all other circumstances you also need to apply your good judgement as an adult and a professional. What does that mean? It means you use this test: given our context, is this good enough for now and safe enough to try?

This world has no shortage of ideas and plans. What it has, is a dire need of good execution. Let's get to work!


Does GROW sound familiar? It is originally a model used in coaching and was developed by Sir John Whitmore in the 1980s. I’ve changed the focus to bring it to work delivery rather than self-improvement. In the original model Whitmore has W as Will (what will you do, where is your willpower).

Categories: Business Agility, Agile Coaching.

Tags: Agile, Agile coaching, planning, Productivity, ScrumMaster.