The mechanical properties of polycrystalline materials are largely determined by the kinetics of the phase transformations during the production process. Progress in x-ray diffraction instrumentation at synchrotron sources has created an opportunity to study the transformation kinetics at the level of individual grains. Our measurements show that the activation energy for grain nucleation is at least two orders of magnitude smaller than that predicted by thermodynamic models. The observed growth curves of the newly formed grains confirm the parabolic growth model but also show three fundamentally different types of growth. Insight into the grain nucleation and growth mechanisms during phase transformations contributes to the development of materials with optimal mechanical properties.