Rose, Bud, Thorn retrospective

Sprint retrospective idea – Stop and smell the roses.

What is the Rose, Bud, Thorn retrospective

The Rose, Bud, Thorn retrospective is a simple, yet effective sprint retrospective technique designed to help identify the positive outcomes (Rose), the opportunities (Bud), and the challenges (Thorn) from your last sprint.

With their natural beauty, healing properties and incredible range of colours, it’s no wonder poets, artists and other creatives have been leveraging the abundant symbolism of roses since time immemorial, and now – with our Rose, Bud, Thorn template – it’s your turn.
The template has been designed to be deliberately simple to foster clarity of thought, and like many of our retrospectives, the opportunities to identify the positives are front and centre!
This is a great retrospective to use if you wish to help remind your team to view challenges (Thorns) as manageable accompaniments to the delivery of value (Roses).

Rose, Bud, Thorn retrospective format


Participants share their positive outcomes, successes, and wins of the last sprint. What was delivered and by whom? What worked well? What outputs can be showcased and celebrated? What achievements do you want to stop to smell… oops… appreciate?


Participants share the opportunities they perceive are waiting to blossom. What potential wins could be delivered? What ideas have potential? What has worked before?


Participants identify the challenges and issues that, like thorns, are causing pain.

This style of retrospective can be used when you don’t wish to over-complicate the review of your last sprint.


Suggested Icebreaker questions for the Rose, Bud, Thorn retrospective

  • If you were a rose, what colour would you be and why?
  • What superpower would a rose symbolise?
  • How could a rose be used to help during a zombie apocalypse?

Retro Rehearsal

Invite your team to rehearse the retro referencing this dessert.

For example, if you were presented with this dessert, what would you instantly think was good about it? How do you think it could be improved? What would put you off trying it? In each case, explain why responded that way.

Ideas and tips for your Rose, Bud, Thorn retrospectives

  • Use the categories for a quick team check-in (is the team enjoying the roses, identifying buds, or being scratched by thorns).
  • If possible, take the retro outside.
  • Experiment with the retro template to make it your own (small, medium and big buds could reflect the level of effort needed to nurture potential and perceived ROI).
  • Try to encourage ideas in each section. Even if your team hasn’t achieved anything. Having an idea regarding what needs to be achieved to complete the overall goal will undoubtedly be useful.
  • If you have just completed a particularly valuable sprint, award bouquets – you could have teams nominate members for the most resilient, most valuable, most important, or most improved player of the team.
  • Why not use a gratitude checkout – have team members cite who or what made a difference to them in the last sprint.

How to run a Rose, Bud, Thorn retrospective in TeamRetro

Start Agile Retrospective

Start your retrospective in a click
Log into TeamRetro and choose your sprint retrospective template.

Invite Your Team
Invite your team easily – no separate accounts needed
Send an email invite, a link or add to your Slack channel to get people started quickly. SSO options are also available.
Agile Retrospective Brainstorm
Time to brainstorm
Each team member can now brainstorm individually under each topic. This avoids group think and allows everyone to have their say. They can indicate when they have finished, or you can set a timer so that you know when to move onto the next stage.
Grouping of ideas after brainstorming in a retrospective meeting
Group related ideas
Drag and drop  related ideas to combine them for easier voting. TeamRetro can also automatically suggest ideas that are similar, saving you and your team valuable time.
Grouping of ideas after brainstorming in a retrospective meeting
Vote independently to avoid anchoring
Each team member votes on what they would most like to discuss further. The results won’t be displayed to everyone until you advance to Discuss.
Grouping of ideas after brainstorming in a retrospective meeting

Discuss the most important things first
You and your team discuss the top voted ideas and can capture deep dive comments.  Presentation mode allows you to walk your team through ideas one-by-one and keep the conversation focused.

Grouping of ideas after brainstorming in a retrospective meeting

Review and create actions

Easily facilitate discussion by bringing everyone onto the same page. Create action items, assign owners and due dates that will carry through for review at the next retrospective.

Grouping of ideas after brainstorming in a retrospective meeting

Share the results
Once you have finished your retro, you can share the results and actions with the team. Your retro will be stored so you can revisit them as needed.

Congratulations! You’ve just run a retro like a boss.
Want more? Read on.