The Start Stop Continue retrospective is a solid starter template for those looking to gather simple, effective and valuable feedback from a scrum team on a project or process. This template offers immediate feedback, making it a useful tool for iterating on and improving your team's ongoing workflow or recurring projects.
Start Stop Continue is the simplest exercise for creating continuous improvement for your team.
Let's define the three categories of the Start Stop Continue retro first:
(Example: Start toasting the buns on the cheeseburgers, they taste better that way)
(Example: Continue the two-for-one Tuesday deal, it’s a huge hit)
Thanks to the decisive language of the labels, a Start Stop Continue exercise tends to be more action-oriented, favoring solutions that can be implemented immediately. When you literally say, "We are going to start these things and stop these other things," it just sticks more.
At the end of the meeting your team can decide what to change, set an action item, run an activity, or create a task to push things forward.
It seems like a small thing, but those action-oriented words don't leave a lot of room for maybes and suggestions. So what if something doesn't work out? No problem. Those new solutions can be reexamined in the next retro. They're action-oriented, not set in stone.
Repeating this exercise is a good way to balance a process or workflow. Eventually you'll have a dense "continue" column with relatively light "start" and "stop" columns. That's how you know your team's a well-oiled machine! A Start Stop Continue retrospective meeting isn't just for a Scrum team. An executive team or larger group can also benefit from the process.
But don't get discouraged if you can't find that balance after a single retrospective. These are meant to be repeated.
You can't retro your way to a perfect team, but you can do continuous retros to maintain a great one.
The best time to run a Start Stop Continue retrospective is immediately after a sprint cycle (usually a one-to-two week sprint, or maybe after a month of running multiple sprints), at the end of a large team project, or after an event.
To continuously improve your team, the most important thing is to run a retrospective in the first place, whenever that may be, and the Stop, Start, Continue format can be an easy way to jump into this practice, if it's new to you.
You should run retrospectives while the memories and experiences you're reflecting on are still fresh and team members are still available, so you can prevent recency bias creeping in. This is especially important if you had contractors involved who might move on to other opportunities. So aim for a few days, to one week after-long enough for some personal reflection time, but not so long that everyone has moved on.
Another good time to do one is if you notice repeated hiccups in your process:
These things could be indicative of weaknesses in the process or workflow. Taking a moment to run a Start, Stop, Continue retrospective could help you assess what your team really needs to be more efficient.
If you’re doing an Icebreaker, you’ll have a random question to answer. You can refresh it if you want another option, and of course you can create your own if you want.
After the Icebreaker you’ll move on to the reflect stage. This is where you get into the principles of the Start, Stop, Continue retro discussed above.