Roses, Thorns and Buds

Dan Carusi Business Development, Change, Dan Carusi, Seat at the Table, T+D

Happy New Year!  Hopefully, the fog from your New Year’s Eve festivities is wearing off and you are actually starting to think about 2014.  I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions and setting unrealistic goals that will likely be abandoned before the end of January.  So, I follow the Boy Scout approach with a Roses, Thorns and Buds exercise.

I’m as Assistant Scoutmaster (ASM) with my son’s Troop, and the boys are experts at conducting these at the conclusion of a Troop/Patrol event and at the end of the year.  It forces them to take an honest look at what worked well (Roses), what did not (Thorns) and what should be done differently or new (Buds), with the desired outcome being a much improved event the next go around.

So, to provide a good example of the Scout approach for the FOT nation, the following are the Roses, Thorns and Buds for Talent & Learning in 2013.


  • Developing the hell out of your employees
  • Providing meaningful work
  • Fostering a culture of self-directed learning
  • Encouraging insatiable curiosity
  • Inspiring employees to be lifelong learners
  • Motivating from the top down—talent holding a seat at the CEO table


  • Continuing to buy brilliant jerks (I mean talent)
  • Utilizing wellness programs and perks as your strategy to win the war for talent
  • Not changing performance management or your ratings system
  • Doubling down on formal and classroom training
  • Reducing leadership development budget
  • Assuming you have a highly engaged and bought-in workforce


  • Learning something new
  • Encouraging both personal and professional development
  • Writing a Talent and People strategy
  • Eliminating ratings all together
  • Implementing a leadership succession plan
  • Writing an Inspiration Policy—Inspire, Think, Innovate
  • Flipping the classroom—if you must have classroom training
  • Letting employees have fun!

See, a very simple process.  I could easily have come up with a lengthy list for all three but it needs to be manageable in order to be successful.  Of course, the attention span of a middle school age Scout may be the reason for keeping the list short.  My point is, come out of this exercise with something that is actionable.

So, here is your homework assignment for the New Year:  Go back to your organizations and conduct your own Roses, Thorns and Buds.  Be honest with yourself with the roses and thorns while being innovative with the buds.  When done right you will set yourself on the correct course for 2014.  If you need some help, I have some Scouts that are available at a reasonable rate.