Rose, Bud, Thorn

TL;DR Rose, Bud, Thorn is a useful exercise that can help you to understand strengths, weaknesses, and areas of potential. Use this template to brainstorm, team build, or give and receive feedback on a project or idea.

  • When considering a specific problem or topic, it is important to understand what’s working, what’s not, and what has potential.
  • Brainstorm ideas and start to group related topics together
  • Find common themes by clustering your ideas or using affinity mapping techniques
  • Give and receive feedback on your findings with your group
  • Remind your team to stay focused on the given topic and have an unbiased discussion about the subject or opportunity

Jump right into the Miro Template

Rose, bud thorn is a great structured responding or structured thinking method that allows us to collect feedback in three different distinct buckets: positive roses, potential buds, and problematic thorns.

In this exercise, roses are things that have happened or that you can acknowledge as good. These are typically the things you are most excited about but want to invest the least in since you’re already doing them well. Roses are demoted by red sticky notes in this template. 

Green sticky notes represent a bud, or a potential opportunity. Buds are usually something that gives you a spark or inspires you in some way. These often show you different, new, and exciting opportunities that you can take. Buds are really based all around this idea of nascent, early signals that tell you things are moving in the right direction, but may need to be cultivated or nurtured in some capacity in order to realize full potential.

Thorns are the blue sticky notes and represent the weaknesses or more tricky problems. These tend to be considered the “ouch” points of an idea. Thorns are areas that either externally we've heard validation or our intuition is telling us we really need to focus on because they’re just not quite right.

3 Steps to Rose, Bud, Thorn

    • Brainstorm
    • Cluster by theme
    • Examine and discuss

    Start by brainstorming various topics you and your team want to focus in on. Be sure to stay aligned on your topics throughout the exercise. Begin by filling out a sticky note with a concept or idea you'd like to consider. Next, you'll want to cluster similar ideas together. Create groupings of common themes to examine more closely. This is a great opportunity to use affinity mapping!

    Once the sticky notes have been created and clustered, its time to discuss each topic with your team and hear alternative perspectives. Start the discussion by picking a theme, then work to rotate the discussion around the group, giving everyone a chance to weigh in.

    Jump right into the Miro Template

    Final Thoughts

    Rose, bud, thorn allows you to collect feedback in a clear and concise way through a structured thinking method. Be sure to create a safe space for your team to have an open and honest discussion about the good, bad, and growth opportunities. Remember, there is always room for improvement on any idea, problem or solution. Get feedback and utilize your responses to improve, grow, or keep up the good work on an idea or project.

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    Adam Paulisick

    Founder at SKILLBUILDER & (fmr @BCG @Nielsen — acquired 3x). Prof @teppercmu, MHCI & exec ed at Gates School of Comp Sci. Founder @TheShopPgh

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