Rose, Bud, Thorn – Problem Framing exercise

Perhaps the most interesting method that I learned today at the HCD workshop was the “Rose, Bud, Thorn” (RBT).

I am particularly interested and looking out for methods that will help me conduct a brainstorming session at my company (Vivisimo) next week, so this sounded like something that would be really interesting to try out.

In a nutshell, this method is a way of identifying things as positive (rose), having potential (buds) or a problem (thorn).

There are a couple of ways in which this method can be used. One, sticky notes that correspond to rose, bud and thorn concepts (pink, green and blue work well) can be used as labels to tag categories or single items in a data set. For example, today we used it on top of our experiencing diagramming to annotate breakpoints, opportunities for improvements as well as things that were working and didn’t want to accidentally break during the process of redesigning and improving something else. I thought this was an extremely rich and useful representation of the day-in-a-life type artifact.

Another usage of this method is to ask members to write up thoughts on the rose, bud, thorn sticky notes in response to a question. Now, this sounds like something I could use during my brainstorming session. I am still struggling to define what the most important question should be for the session, since it is quite a broad feature we are trying to tackle in just one seating… but I might be able to combine the top questions into one general one. Something I got reminded today and need to keep in mind for this is how stating the problem will have a great impact on what solutions the team ends up proposing.

The facilitator needs to layout a couple of rules that make for an even more interesting exercise:

  1. Time: 15 minutes max. (adding some pressure forces people to think on the fly and to not over-think or second-guess themselves)
  2. Everybody has to come up with at least 2 stickies of each (this forces positive people to think about the negative aspects of the project/product and skeptics to think about positive aspects of it)

If all goes well, themes will start emerging, and the moderator can start to cluster them by affinity (Affinity Clustering). The team will immediately see which areas are more problematic than others.

I have not used this method yet, but this sounds like an excellent way to encourage constructive discussion and gain a common understanding of a project/product or, in my case, feature. Plus it will force everybody to bring something to the discussion. I can’t wait to apply it!

Do you know what is the origin of the RBT design method? I didn’t. I’ll let you think about it first, and can always click here to find out (Terry this is for you :-P ;-) )

27. July 2011 by ariadna
Categories: UX | Tags: , , , , , | 3 comments