Cees de Quaasteniet Every person has talents to show, talents that will not only impact their teams, but will also deliver on bigger goals. I connect with people in a way they appreciate and help them move forward.

How to GROW with intention

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How to GROW with intention

Last year was mostly about helping a service organization transform into an agile mindset and the agile way of working. And next to that, I have been working as a talent coach for more than over 10 years now. During those years, I noticed more people got stuck, especially in organizations where there’s a push towards being self-organized and where people have quite a lot of freedom to fit their talents to the need of the organization.

I realized I needed to specialize myself more in getting teams and people unstuck and help them think about their talents and purpose. I believe it is important to keep reinventing yourself to see options to grow and be able to make an even bigger impact, not only because the organization benefits from that, but more importantly to keep yourself challenged and feel fulfilled when you achieve new things. For teams, we regularly use the Alignment Canvas, where it helps to align the team goals. And one thing I often used to get people going again is an ‘Intentional GROW’ session.

Seven-step process

An Intentional GROW session follows a simple seven-step process with the aim to get to clear next actions. People can follow these steps themselves, but in my experience, it is most valuable if a person follows the steps together with a coach who listens and ask clarifying questions. It often also gives the coach a lot more clarity on his coachee.

The session is build up around the already known GROW model, GROW is an acronym that stands for:

  • Goal
  • Reality
  • Options
  • Will

And I have added extra steps to make the goal more intentional.

  • Your Talents
  • What you love to do
  • What the ‘world’ needs


When you or the person being coached doesn't have a clear picture about their own strengths yet it is useful to prepare before starting with a session like this. There are many ways to get insights into strengths and talents. In the post ‘Reveal your talents and the path you walk’ I go over a couple of different options I used for myself or for people I have coached. I recommend reading that post before you start with this session.

The actual session

So now it’s time to talk about the actual session and walk through the 7 steps of the session. Normally I plan 1,5 hours to talk about these steps. I have created a canvas that supports the session. It will guide you through the seven steps and afterward, you’ll have a concise talking document.  You can find it here.

The intentional GROW canvas

1. Define your talents

In this area, you define the things you are good at. Somebody probably told you this before. For example, by a team member you collaborated with, or by talking to your coach. If you can’t come up with anything relevant, revert to the options above to first examine your set of talents.

2. The things you love to do

During this part, you write down the moments you lost track of time. Where you really got into a flow. The todo’s on your list you don’t see as work. To get more specific items you could make use of the 5x times why technique.

3. What the ‘world’ needs

To put the two previous steps into context, this is the moment to get clarity on what the world needs. You can use the world in this case in different ways. For instance, the world for you could mean the organization, or maybe the department. And you could make it even smaller by thinking about what your team needs.

Triggering question is:

  • What is the #1 Problem at our organization, in our team? Why?

4. Establish the Goal

Now it is time to establish the behavior or a process subject to change. Note down this change as a goal you want to achieve. Don’t over think it but try to formulate your goal as a SMART/ or OKR goal.

When doing this, it’s useful to ask questions like:

  • How will you know you have achieved this goal? How will you know the problem or issue is solved? In what state is it and how will it look like when you changed it?
  • Does this goal fit with your overall career objectives? And does it fit with what the ‘world’ needs?

5. Consider the Current Reality

Next, consider your current reality. It is important to consider your starting point, do you clearly understand what is currently happening. Do you have all the information you need to reach your goal effectively?

Triggering questions are:

  • What is already happening towards this goal? By whom, how? What are they or you already doing? Are there already results or noticeable effects?
  • What steps did you take towards your goal?
  • Are there any other goals that conflict with this goal? Could someone junior work on these goals and learn?
  • What are the biggest time wasters for you each week?

6. Examine the Options

By now you have a pretty clear picture of your goal and what is already happening towards it, in this step you can brainstorm about everything that is possible to achieve the goal. Take some decent amount of time for this step, at first you will list all the obvious possibilities, but after a while, you will come up with some creative opportunities. After you got it all on paper decide which ones are the best.

Triggering questions are:

  • What other options are there?
  • What if someone removed a constraint? Would that change things?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of each option?
  • What do you need to stop doing to achieve this goal?
  • What obstacles stand in your way?

7. Create the Way forward

Okay let’s make it real, what will you do now and when? By considering the reality and examining your options you should have a solid idea on how you could achieve your goal. Nicely done, but it is important committing to next actions, this part will help you get unstuck and holds you accountable. Consider your best options and write the next action you will take. Make it as small as possible. Do you need to talk to someone? Agree to plan in a talk with that person. Is there a training and exam you need to pass? When will you start the training, and when do you want to pass the exam? Write it all down.

You should have something like this: I will do and want to have it done by

Triggering questions are:

  • What are you going to do and when? Anything else that you could do?
  • Who could help you achieve your goal?
  • What could be in your way of moving forward? How will you circumvent this?
  • What keeps you engaged and focused?
  • How do you create the time to work on your goal?
  • When will you get back on your progress? During coaching moments?  In what frequency?

Review your GROW Canvas

After you went through the seven steps of the GROW Canvas, make sure you also plan in a moment to discuss your canvas with your coach, especially when you have created it on your own. That way you will discuss things that could be in the way or it could result in new insights. To hold yourself accountable, I would advise agreeing on a date to review it again. Remember, you get the most value out of these steps and the canvas by having actual conversations.

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