Prep Time:
Time to run:
30 min

Rose, thorn, & bud template

Understand a situation and identify opportunities for improvement

Courtesy of our friends at

Use this template to better understand a situation by identifying what is working, what’s not going well, and areas that could be improved.

The exercise involves listing out the problem, the positive aspects of the problem (the rose), the negative aspects of the problem (the thorn), and possible solutions to the problem (the buds).

The rose, thorn, bud exercise can be used by individuals or groups, and it is a helpful way to generate new ideas and perspectives on a problem in real-time.

The rose, thorn, bud template helps you:

  • Define the central topic or problem
  • Brainstorm with your team to identify what is going well, what isn’t working, and opportunities for improvement
  • Organize and identify themes across your feedback for further analysis
  • Get aligned on next steps

How to use the rose, thorn, bud template

To facilitate a successful rose, thorn, bud exercise, you should:

Gather a diverse group of stakeholders

In order to gather a broad array of insights and ensure that you’re not missing any key points, it’s vital to include stakeholders across the whole spectrum of your project.

Introduce the problem

Begin by providing everyone with a clear outline of the issue at hand, and any appropriate context, so that your team is aligned on the problem you’re trying to solve. Handle any questions upfront so that your brainstorming session can be as productive as possible.

What is going well? (Rose)

Next, have your team brainstorm ideas about what is going well — encourage everyone to be as thorough as possible. The goal of this process is to capture as much related feedback as possible, so broad engagement is key.

Protip: Make sure each participant only includes one idea per sticky note — this helps avoid confusion and makes it easier to organize your feedback.

What’s not going well? (Thorn)

Now it’s time to talk about the bad stuff — what are some things that have been negatively affecting your team or your processes? Again, collect as much feedback as possible so that the final stage of your brainstorming can have maximum impact.

Opportunities for improvement (Bud)

This is where you ask your team members to think through the ideas they may have had to address issues they’ve encountered with your current process. Inspiration for this could come from both of the first two parts of this brainstorming session — if it’s going well, could it be even better? If it’s not going well, what are some ways that broken processes could be fixed?

Organize your feedback and align on action items

Once you've gathered your feedback, organize it by clustering the ideas by topic, helping you analyze any consistent themes and reveal potential next steps and action items.

Tips for running a rose, thorn, bud template exercise

Make your rose, bud, thorn exercise even more impactful by:

  • Color-coding your feedback to make it easy to scan (our template suggests pink sticky notes for roses, blue for thorns, and green for buds)
  • Using features like private mode to avoid groupthink and encourage individual ideation, and timer to keep things moving
  • Organizing and analyzing your feedback by identifying and grouping themes together, facilitating the creation of actionable next steps

How to create a Rose, thorn, & bud template

Gather more impactful feedback with Mural

Mural's unique features make team brainstorming, ideation, organization, and alignment on next steps faster and easier than with other online whiteboard tools.
Sticky notes & text

Sticky notes & text

Add ideas, action items, and more as a sticky note or text box — then change the colors and cluster to identify patterns and new solutions.



Add comments and tag collaborators for smooth asynchronous communication.

Private mode

Private mode

Avoid groupthink and get authentic feedback by allowing collaborators to add content privately.

Real-time collaboration

Real-time collaboration

Add more productivity and engagement to meetings and calls with features to guide collaboration.

Summon collaborators

Summon collaborators

Easily direct everyone’s attention to a specific part of the mural — no screen sharing required.

Tags on sticky notes

Tags on sticky notes

Customizable labels make it easy to find, organize, and categorize your work in a mural.

Rose, thorn, & bud template frequently asked questions

What is the rose, thorn, bud technique?

What is meant by design thinking?

What other activities are similar to a rose, thorn, bud exercise?

LUMA Institute

Template by LUMA Institute


LUMA offers acclaimed in-person training, custom innovation programs, and a unique digital platform (LUMA Workplace), used by innovators in over 70 countries. Leading organizations around the globe rely on the LUMA System of Innovation — a practical, flexible, and scalable approach to Human-Centered Design.