Start Stop Continue is a great format to focus on the things that are working (continue), things that are not working (stop) and things that the team should start doing (start). It focus on the past, present and future at the same time.
Running projects – big or small – can be challenging. Handling a group of people isn’t as easy as it may seem. A team member, leader or manager can face many obstacles regarding repetitive mistakes the group might be making, or things that could’ve been done better, etc. A tried and tested method to increase productivity or a group, regardless of the project is the start, stop, and continue retrospective.
The start, stop, continue exercise retrospective is a technique to review your actions and outcomes together in a group. The problem with working with a group is that everyone has different ideas and suggestions – the job of the leader is to bring all of these together, choose, and implement the best ideas for future work.
It might seem too simple of a technique – but it works. It helps people to clearly communicate their issues and concerns. Moreover, it is a great way to incorporate new ideas, set priorities, and enhance productivity. Simply put, it gives the team members an overview of what happened, what should happen, what shouldn’t happen, and what things need to stay the same.
Start - - This consists of all ideas that the team should be working on but are not. Things that should be done which previously have not been acknowledged, and ideas worth discussing to counteract current issues.
Stop - - This consists of things that do not deliver the expected result or things that are not productive. Anything that brings negative energy to the group.
Continue - - These are the things and ideas that have value and bring a positive result should be continued.
Anyone can create a start, stop, and continue discussion. It does not require any specific skill other than the fact that they are able to facilitate a discussion amongst a group. The first thing you need to do is gather everyone who contributed to the project – all the group members.
Before starting the conversation, we would recommend you to get create a EasyRetro board with the correct template, setup an online call and invite everyone involved on the project. You can also send an email explaining shortly how the meeting is going to be and what people should expect.
Ask the members to write down anything they think should start, stop, or continue. Everyone should write down everything that they can think according to the 3 categories, each point should be considered and noted until everyone has run out of things to share.
Once you have a list of everything, read outloud every card and starting merging the ones that are similar. You can also move cards from one category to another if it makes sence and in a way that all similar things are placed together.
As soon as every idea has been put on the wall, you will ask group members to vote and choose which ideas are more significant or need to be addressed. Moving on to the final part of the activity, you will discuss in detail the ideas which have been voted most relevant.
This is the section where you ask the team why they voted for certain ideas – why they think the ideas are crucial to the progress of the team. At the end of the discussion, you should have better ideas of what your team felt about the previous sprints and to improve in the subsequent ones.
At the end of the activity, you will have a stack of creative and unique ideas that put together will contribute to the progress of your project, business, or company in the future. If you want to know more about this technique, you can also read this tutorial by David Ciccarelli Start Stop Continue .
The start, stop, continue method has numerous immediate and long-term benefits, including:
You can create a free start stop continue retrospective template right now. You will also be able to export it to JPEG, PDF and spreadsheet formats in the end of the exercise.