Rose, Bud, Thorn


A quick exercise designed to get you to take a step back from the detail of whatever you are working on and get an overview of where you are. It helps to see what is working, what’s not working, and what you might wish to do next. It can be used in a wide range of contexts and circumstances.

Also known as

The tool

The purpose of Rose, Bud, Thorn is to help you:

  • Recognise both strengths and weaknesses so you can put in place measures to do more of what’s going well and fix problems.
  • Encourage ideation and debate within teams. Discussing Buds can encourage the development of new, innovative ideas.
  • Gather insight and learn from all members of the team, even, or especially, those who may be reluctant to share.

Using your thoughts or discussions, you can categorise them as either as a Rose, a Bud or a Thorn.


Diagram of a rose in full bloom
  • The rose in full bloom is something positive.
  • This may be something that has worked well, or be some positive feedback you have received.


Diagram of a rose bud
  • The rose in bud prompts you to identify an opportunity for improvement.
  • The bud has the potential to turn into a rose.


Diagram of a rose stem with thorns
  • Thorns can be anything which didn’t go the way you hoped it would.

Why use it

When to use it

  • Rose, Bud, Thorn can be used in a wide range of situations. It can be used individually or in a group. It can, for example, be used as a check-in exercise at the start of a meeting, a tool to encourage self-reflection, or as a discussion tool.

How to use it

  1. In a problem solving environment, particularly if you are brainstorming in a workshop environment, you are likely to come up with multiple Roses, Buds, and Thorns.
  2. You could choose a number of each to write down or you could have every member of the team come up with one Rose, Bud, and Thorn each.
  3. After you have collated all your Roses, Buds, and Thorns, talk through each point with your team.
  4. Take time to celebrate and appreciate your Roses, identify ways to nurture your Buds, and identify solutions for removing Thorns.



Similar to

  • Even better if?
  • What worked well?

Use in conjunction with

Complemented by


Additional information