When facing challenges, often, teams meet to discuss changes that need to be made, rather than taking the time to look back at their work.
Retrospectives, meetings held towards the end of a sprint to discuss and evaluate previous work, are a way for teams to pause and look back, in order to better move forward. This can be done in so many ways, depending on the desired focus; whether that is to dive into the emotions and share personal experiences during the sprint or to, merely, observe work patterns. The start, stop, continue is a retrospective that allows a team to consider what working methods have proved to be efficient for them, what wasn’t really beneficial, and what practices would they like to try that will potentially increase their productivity. Taking the time to evaluate the team’s performance can help improve their working methods in the following sprints.
This article is a recipe to help guide your team through the Start Stop Continue Retrospective to figure out what new actions they should undertake, which ones to continue, and which ones to let go of.
Enhances team spirit
45 minutes per week of the sprint
The Start, Stop, Continue retrospective is an action-oriented framework that looks beyond, merely, analyzing the negative and positive. The first step is to team up with your colleagues and take a few minutes to reflect on your previous sprint. The facilitator should ask the participants to write down their suggestions for each of the three sections. We recommend that you follow this order Continue, Stop, Start for the following reasons:
Starting your workshop on the right foot, and begin by looking at what your team is doing right. List the behaviors and activities that your team has been doing that proved to be efficient. These are the actions that you should keep doing in the upcoming sprint.
Reflecting on what you have accomplished, and all the methods that helped you achieve that, helps you build a strong foundation and motivates the team to continue those efforts.
Once you bring forth what has proved to be efficient it becomes easier to point out the activities that are wasteful. Anything that has impacted your team’s work negatively in the previous sprint, or is blocking your full potential should go on this list.
After analyzing what you have done previously, what worked for you and what didn’t; it’s time to think of new working methods that fit in with the ones you decided to keep and replace the ones you stopped. These new activities can have a positive impact on your company culture, reduce waste, and improve overall productivity. Whether it involves using a new tool or changing adopting new habits, being open to new ways of doing things is always an opportunity to learn.
2. Prioritizing what needs to be discussed
Having too many ideas can get crowded, and going over each one individually takes more time than desired. Therefore, once the participants are done writing down their inputs, they can then vote on which ideas to discuss.
During the discussion, the facilitator can read out the different inputs to keep the anonymity aspect. If the participant whose card is being read out wants to elaborate on his point then he is more than welcome to do so. However, some people can be rather shy or afraid of voicing their thoughts, instead of pressuring them, you can encourage them to share their ideas anonymously.
4. Deciding on the next steps
Once the facilitator is done sharing the different inputs, and the participant’s discussion is over, it is time to vote on which actions the team wants to continue doing, to stop, and to start doing in the next sprint. This can be done in two ways. One way is to address each section separately and vote after discussing all the different inputs specific to that section. The other way is to consider the scope as a whole and vote towards the end on all the inputs across the three different sections that make sense together. For example, if you vote on stopping a certain activity, then you simultaneously vote on the action that seems most fit to replace it with.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Start Stop Continue Retrospective?
A Start, Stop, Continue Retrospective is a workshop that enables its participants to reflect on their work. It allows the team to take the time to analyze their behaviors and activities in the previous sprint and dividing those action into 3 categories:
Start – New actions they should undertake
Stop – Activities that are inefficient and need to be stopped
Continue – Behaviors proved to be productive and that positively impact the team, therefore should be continued.
The Start, Stop, Continue retrospective helps the team decide on actions that will enhance their performance during the following sprint.
When to use the Start Stop Continue Retrospective?
The retrospective should be used towards the end of a sprint to be better prepared for the following one. It could also be used at the end of a project or event.
Why use the Start Stop Continue Retrospective?
The Start Stop Continue Retrospective is a framework that gives all team members a voice to share their input on their work experience during a specific period. It brings the team together by taking into account all the effort that was done which helps them establish the momentum to continue those activities and motivates them to move forward from there. Looking into what actions should be stopped helps them identify the bottlenecks and any problems in their working methods that affect their productivity negatively. Moreover, this workshop enables its participants to find new activities and embraces new methods of working that could potentially have a positive impact.