(Not-so) model behaviour

Push to success

Is coaching/guidance always such a positive experience?

In an early post I suggested that the popularity of coaching might be attributable to the fact that coaching models all seem to have positive, sexy-sounding acronyms.

I have just come across another model with a cringingly appropriate name. Based on the popular GROW model, Saul Brown and Anthony Grant from Australia have come up with a coaching model for working with teams called…GROUP.

Brown, S. W.  & Grant, A.M. (2010) From GROW to GROUP: theoretical issues and a practical model for group coaching in organisations. Coaching: An International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice, 3(1), 30-45.

GROUP stands for:

  • Goals
  • Reality
  • Options
  • Understanding others
  • Perform

I can’t really tell you much more about it because my Athens account doesn’t give me access to Coaching: An International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice, so I can’t read the whole paper. Although, I did notice in the abstract they refer to ‘Scharma’s U process’, by which I assume they mean Theory U developed by Otto Scharmer. I mentioned this in my article on levels of listening. They also allude to ‘double-loop learning’. This is one aspect of transformational learning which was an inspiration for the Zones model.

I think Seasonal Affective Disorder has set in because I had a bit of a grumpy week last week. As a result, I’ve decided that I’ve had enough of positive, chirpy model acronyms and want to invent a few that reflect the sometimes disappointing reality of coaching and guidance.

Here are a few models that I have come up with which try to reflect the dark side of guidance practice. At various times I think I have followed all of these models.


  • Forget to establish a clear contract with the client and neglect to negotiate over realistic expectations
  • Ask a torrent of information gathering questions without explaining their purpose (possibly without even knowing their purpose)
  • Incubate an expectation in the client that giving you all this information will enable you to provide a magic solution
  • Lose respect when you don’t come up with this brilliant idea


  • Gut feeling — Have a sense that there is something deeper going on in the client than the issue they present with
  • Unwillingness — Feel uncomfortable about ‘opening that can of worms’ in case it’s something beyond your capacity to deal with
  • Latching on — Focus on the simple thing that you think you can deal with (such as checking their CV or giving them information they could easily find themselves)
  • Failing — Not dealing with the real obstacle that will have a long term impact on their chances of success (giving them a sticking plaster for a scratch but ignoring the broken leg)


  • Perceiving only the issues you are geared up to notice
  • Using the same models or processes irrespective of the client’s needs
  • Squeezing the uniqueness out of a client’s situation in favour of a one-size-fits-all solution
  • Heeding only the successes and passing off the failures as being the result of unwilling or obstructive clients

I would welcome any other suggestions for grumpy model acronyms.


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  1. #1 by Christa on 16 February 2010 - 18:36

    Well seen as you are talking about the ‘dark side’ I thought a quote from Obi-Wan Kenobi would be fitting; “Many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our point of view.”

    • #2 by David Winter on 16 February 2010 - 22:59

      Thanks Christa
      Many more Star Wars references and people will begin to think we are obsessed.

      I’ve got a very bad feeling about this.

  2. #3 by Alison Bird (@CareersLadyBird) on 4 March 2012 - 00:21

    The new-age careers service *SWIFT* grumpy model for consultations:

    *Start with assumptions and
    *Whisk through the essentials
    *Inform about website links
    *Forget to agree action plan
    *Tell them to attend workshop

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