Monthly Archives: March 2011

Turku Agile Day: Help your people GROW

After attending two excellent sessions at Turku Agile Day I feel compelled to break my 17-month blog silence.

Arto Eskelinen and Sami Honkonen from Reaktor gave a workshop about using the GROW model in coaching. GROW starts with the observation that advice often fails, because the clients don’t feel responsible for the proposed solution. Instead of giving direct advice, coaches should raise awareness and responsibility by asking the right questions.

So far so good. But what are the right questions? Arto and Sami guided us through the four steps of the GROW model with questions, advice (heh), and exercises aiming to improve our question-asking abilities on each step. It turns out that asking the questions is in fact very difficult, and something that needs to practice.

My biggest insight from the workshop was that setting the goal at the start — before assessing the reality — generates positive energy for the change. I have a tendency to think that problems are caused by faulty perception of reality, and I like to solve problems with cause-and-effect analysis. In my quest to keep it real, I have tried to avoid everything unrealistic, and what is more unrealistic than goals not preceded by a reality check? Now I see this is only one part of the picture — starting with the brutal reality tends to create pessimism. When we approach the goal first, we base our plans on dreams; when reality first, on nightmares.

Besides the actual subject of the workshop, I got good ideas from Arto and Sami’s facilitation techniques. The workshop was very well run, with a few simple exercises and props giving us a clear feeling of what were the key points, reminding us constantly of what we we had learned, and making us anticipate what we would be learning.

In summary, I got more aware of my own coaching skills and short-comings. I feel there’s a lot I can do to improve my question-asking ability and my goal-approaching skills. Even better, I feel the responsibility to do it. Well done, Arto and Sami: seems like you asked the right questions.