WAVE - an evaluative coaching framework

Many people recognise the need to change or to make changes, in different areas of their lives, in order to survive and thrive. How to go about this is one of the most frequent and fundamental challenges that clients bring to their life coach. How can someone adapt to, and navigate, the complexity of their lives in a purposeful way that leads to growth and fulfilment?

Unfortunately, sometimes the coaching process itself can contribute to a sense of overwhelm; too many options and pathways revealed, and no easy way to see the benefit of any one of them. In many cases, an individual can go from being stuck in a rut to being drowned in a swamp of choices.

The WAVE evaluative framework has a methodology for identifying, weighing and evaluating different options. Focussing on three core components, evaluating them and seeing how they overlap makes it easier to determine which choices might be more useful and effective. The framework is not a substitute for person to person coaching, but rather it can bring objective clarity to a client and can open up areas for greater exploration and understanding between coachee and coach.

The three core elements are want, able, and value.


In an ideal world, what do you want to be doing, and why? On a daily basis or in terms of your life purpose? Small detail or big picture? Intrinsic satisfaction or wider purpose?


What are you able to do now? What do you think is possible and what is preventing you from striving for the seemingly impossible in the future? What resources do you have: skills, experience and knowledge; access to training, education, funding; support of family, friends, colleagues?


What value does what you do create for yourself and for others? Does this provide you (or others) with an income or other non-monetary benefits? What is the personal, family or community cost – monetary or otherwise – of what you want and are able to do?

In addition, there is ‘E’ for evaluate.


Each of the core elements is evaluated, in detail, in relation to work, career or other major life activities. Based on a number of different criteria, a score for each element is derived, with marks out of ‘10’. The balance between the three element-scores is used to reveal deeper insights into a client’s overall level of satisfaction and fulfilment.

For example, where a ‘W’ score is low but the ‘A’ score is high, there may be an issue of boredom, lack of purpose, or misalignment of value and beliefs. Where the ‘W’ and the ‘A’ scores are high but the ‘V’ score is low the activity may be more suited to being a hobby, not a paying job. A high ‘W’ and ‘V’ but a low ‘A’ may mean the individual needs to develop their skills or knowledge or gain greater experience: that may be an aspirational position.

The overall combined score for all three elements can be used to point out the relative attractiveness of any one specific job, project or endeavour compared with another. Looking at how the individual and overall scores have changed - over time or in different circumstances – can also be very insightful. These comparisons serve as a means to identify areas of change required to build or sustain the growth that an individual wants to achieve.

How can the WAVE approach help?

So, WAVE is an evaluative coaching methodology that enables both coach and client to explore to a level of depth that is highly revealing. The outputs serve as a way to focus coaching sessions around areas that a client may not have been able to uncover without the time and space that a coach can provide. The result is that a client gains a greater understanding of all the elements that make up their life experience; from their environment and their behaviour within it, right through to their identity and their life purpose.

This greater clarity provides a foundation for both client and coach to work together through strategies for change and growth, in whatever area of the client’s personal, social or working life that may be desired. Revisiting the WAVE score, after an elapsed time period, can provide a way to assess the effectiveness of the strategies in reaching the goals, and can help in reassessing the goals themselves.

Coaching is actually not about models, systems, or frameworks. It’s about the relationship between coachee and coach. It’s about rapport and trust. Having said that, there is often value in having a more empirical discovery process – a stimulus to help generate an objective view of a client’s situation and their potential for change and growth.

Life Coach Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Tunbridge Wells TN4 & London EC2M
Written by Stephen Paul, BA, ICF accredited coach
Tunbridge Wells TN4 & London EC2M

A transformative life coach, and NLP practitioner, Steve works with individuals wanting change and growth in order to find fulfilment in their work, social and personal lives. In addition to coaching, he has wide and varied work experience, an empathetic and sensitive nature, and a practical down to earth approach. Steve is also a business mentor.

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