Executive coaches can benefit from incorporating coaching models into their toolkit. These models offer a range of coaching theories, helping coaches to become more adaptable and better equipped to assist clients from diverse backgrounds and industries who face different challenges and obstacles. One such model is the OSCAR coaching model, which is a derivative of the GROW model developed by Karen Whittleworth and Andrew Gilbert (Rogers, 2020, p. 400). In the following article, we analyze the key elements of this model and provide questions that coaches can utilize during their coaching sessions.
Components of the OSCAR Model
The framework of the OSCAR model is composed of five primary components, with each component corresponding to a letter in the model's acronym.
C: Choices and Consequences
This step focuses on understanding the “desired outcome and the individual’s long-term goals'' (Sutton, 2020). It encourages the client and coach to identify “your destination” (Gilbert & Whittleworth, 2009). According to Gilbert and Whittleworth in their book The OSCAR Coaching Model, this step is where you “clarify the outcomes of any given situation” (2009). Some questions that relate to this component include: “What’s the issue? What would you like to achieve here? What do you need from me in this conversation today?” (Rogers, 2020 pg. 400). These questions assess the desired outcome of the coaching session and—if desired by the client—the desired outcome of the entire coaching relationship.
This step invites awareness to the challenge, current state, or “starting point” (Gilbert & Whittleworth, 2009) of the client. Sometimes it can be used to “help the client become aware of their skills, abilities, level of knowledge and how they feel'' (Sutton, 2020). Other times it provokes awareness surrounding the details of a challenge or an unaddressed issue. Some questions that pertain to this step include: “What’s going on around this issue right now?” Tell me who is involved apart from you. What’s the immediate trigger to deciding something needs to change? In an ideal world what would be happening? What’s standing in the way of that ideal? What would you say your own contribution is here?” (Rogers, 2020 pg. 400).
Choices and Consequences
This step invites the client to reflect on the options available to them for “reaching the desired outcome” (Sutton, 2020). It invites a time of brainstorming, creative solution finding, and “route options” to getting to the desired outcome (Gilbert & Whittleworth, 2009). Questions that can be used invite exploration and thought include: “What have you already tried? What other options have you considered? Might there be some other less obvious things to try? Taking each of the main options in turn, what are the upsides and downsides of each? Which seems to be the best option?” (Rogers, 2020 pg. 400). These questions “increase awareness about the consequences of each choice” (Gilbert & Whittleworth, 2009).
The Actions stage of the OSCAR model identifies next steps and the “detailed plan” to achieve the desired outcome (Gilbert & Whittleworth, 2009). This stage involves committing to a plan. Some questions that invoke commitment to action include: “What immediate action might you take here? What longer term plan might be sensible? Who else needs to be involved?” (Rogers, 2020 pg.400). Here clients “take responsibility for [their] own action plan” (Gilbert & Whittleworth, 2009).
This stage of the OSCAR model encourages the client and coach to maintain attention to the desired goal and “ensure” that the goal is pursued to achievement (Sutton, 2020). Some questions that invite review and revisiting include: “What’s the best way to review progress here? When might we review it together?” (Rogers, 2020 pg. 400). This step can be revisited in future coaching sessions and used as a platform for exploring new choices and actions that can be taken to further support the desired outcome.
Unique features of the OSCAR model
Jenny Rogers, author of The Coaches’ Handbook, notes that the OSCAR model offers specific advantages when coaching executives in management roles. In contrast to the GROW model, the OSCAR model allows for discussion and differing opinions during the "choices and consequences" phase, while placing a greater emphasis on reviewing progress and taking action (Rogers, 2020, p. 400). It is worth mentioning that the "choices and consequences" step in OSCAR is comparable to the "options" step in GROW. According to Gilbert & Whittleworth (2009), the OSCAR model's "choices and consequences" component makes it more appropriate for management coaching as it encourages exploring risk to a greater extent. Additionally, like the GROW model, the OSCAR model concentrates on finding solutions and employing solution-focused coaching methods (Sutton, 2020).
The OSKAR Model
Very similar to the OSCAR model, there is the OSKAR model.
K: Know-how and Resources
A: Affirm and action
According to Jonathan Passmore in The Coaches’ Handbook, this model “incorporates a number of [solution-focused coaching] interventions… including goal setting, scaling, the miracle question, and seeing the client as the expert” (Passmore, 2020 pg. 200).
This stage is identical to the “O” stage in the OSCAR model and focuses on identifying the end-goal or “desired outcome” of the coaching relationship or session (Sutton, 2020).
This stage invites clients to use a scale to identify their current state. It offers a more specific method of awareness as opposed to the OSCAR model’s general discussion on Situation. Some questions include: “On a scale of 0-10, with 0 representing the worst it has ever been and 10 the preferred future, where would you put the situation today? You are at # now; what did you do to get this far? How would you know you had got to #+1?” (Passmore, 2020 pg. 200).
Know-how and resources
Again, similar to the OSCAR model, this step invites an exploration of options available to the client. However, it specifically acknowledges what the client already knows and what resources they have at their disposal. Questions can be those such as: “What helps you perform at # on the scale rather than 0? When does the outcome happen for you? What did you do to make that happen? How did you do that?” (Passmore, 2020 pg. 201).
Affirm and action
This step adds “affirmation” to the “action” step prescribed by the OSCAR model. Adding affirmation can be done by asking questions such as “what is already going well?” before deciding what action steps need to be taken next (Passmore, 2020 pg. 201).
Identical to the “review” step in the OSCAR coaching model, this step invites a continual evaluation of the goal achievement process.
The main takeaway
The OSCAR model provides a distinct approach that emphasizes exploring consequences and reviewing outcomes for managers. Although there is currently no dedicated research on this model, it is closely connected to the evidence-based research and studies on the GROW model and solution-focused coaching. Based on this, it is reasonable to conclude that the OSCAR model (and its sibling, the OSKAR model) can be a beneficial resource for executive coaches to incorporate into their coaching sessions.
Gilbert, A., & Whittleworth, K. (2009). The OSCAR Coaching Model. Unknown Publisher.
Passmore, J. (2020). Solution Focused Coaching. In The Coaches’ Handbook (p. 200).
Rogers, J. (2020). Manager as Coach. In The Coaches’ Handbook (p. 400). Routledge.
Sutton, J., PhD. (2020). 12 Effective Coaching Models to Help Your Clients Grow.
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