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Evaluate Options


   Rose, Bud, Thorn

This framework helps a user or group conduct an analysis by visually categorizing positive (rose), potential (bud), or negative (thorn) aspects of a topic (e.g., system, product, process).

Session Length: 45+ minutes Group Size: 4+ people Prep Time: 10-20+ minutes


Use this tool at any phase of a project to clarify different facets of the challenge or opportunity and identify areas needing further evaluation and exploration. Use the tool as needed to help maintain agreement among the team.


Using the Rose, Bud, Thorn tool can:

  • Help quickly identify problems and opportunities, and produce a structured summary of each.
  • Give all team members a voice and an opportunity to contribute.
  • Promote constructive discussions around difficult topics, such as “what’s not working well.”
  • Build shared understanding among the team and reframe the team’s understanding of the topic.
  • Analyze issues quickly.
  • Organize research data.
  • Contribute to a better understanding of the project’s risk



STEP 1: Identify a topic for analysis. Possibilities include systems, products, processes, organizations, etc.
STEP 2: Pull together a diverse group of stakeholders, users, and subject matter experts.
STEP 3: Pass out red (rose), green (bud), and blue (thorn) sticky notes to participants and have them write the strengths, opportunities, and challenges associated with the topic. If colored sticky notes are not available, use red, green, and blue markers with plain sticky notes, or use a whiteboard with colored markers. Optional: Use the Rose, Bud, Thorn worksheet as your guide.
STEP 4: Encourage participants to generate multiple issues, insights, or ideas, but to capture only one per sticky note.
STEP 5: Group the colored sticky notes on a whiteboard or similar surface according to rose, bud, and thorn.
STEP 6: If desired, participants can group or cluster items further by priority or related themes and give each group a title.

Thinking of using this tool? Check out this blog post for some facilitation tips!

Rose, Bud, Thorn |Worksheet

Download this tool to print out and start using with your team. Each download includes a tool description and if applicable, a template and example.

Check out Dan’s Rose Bud Thorn blog post for tips and ideas on how to use this tool!