← Blog.

How to Set Up a Start, Stop Continue

Communication, collaboration, and reflection are essential parts of efficient team management and productivity. As many companies continue to move towards remote work around the world, team management and maintaining the flow of communication has proven challenging.

Remote work and asynchronous communication can wear on a team and lead to lower productivity. A lack of motivation for action, either in the form of inadequate feedback or failure of confrontation can emerge if you don’t set up strategies from the beginning. However, this is where agile retrospectives come in. Holding regular retrospectives can help your team look back at events and decisions, evaluating and highlighting the issues, and then working out solutions organically.

It’s vital to have a retrospective that fits your team and develops an effective workflow. One format for a retro is the “start, stop, continue.” This format has an action-oriented approach, adaptable techniques of working and a simple yet functional template. It’s ideal for a team retrospective. Start, stop continue not only lets you look at the past actions but ensures that you work adequately for the steps to come, which is perfect for busy PMs and scrum masters keeping tabs on their teams.

Basics of the Start, Stop Continue

Start, Stop Continue agile retrospectives promote an open style of communication that makes tasks clear and easy to understand. To start one, begin with a brainstorming session to collect all the ideas from your team. Participants reflect on the previous sprint and write down what they want to address. Then, have a discussion on what your team comes up with under the categories. Finally, come to a consensus through a vote to decide on new approaches and working methods. This will keep everything clear and straightforward for your team to constantly work better.

In the RetroTeam app, you can invite participants to your board and everyone can create cards, vote and track decisions. Start, stop continue is one of the most popular formats for its simplicity. Set up your own free board today.

Since the format prioritizes the opinions and ideas of each individual for a constructive session, it divides the meeting into three categories:

  • Start

Under this category, the team lists the actions and efforts the organization should consider for the next cycle. It could be anything from a new policy to a creative approach to boost productivity. It’s vital that this stage is open and honest — there are no wrong answers!

  • Stop

Any activity that has hindered productivity or has put up blockers is for this category. The organization should end the tasks that drain productivity and come up with better strategies as a team.

  • Continue

The activities that were effective in the sprint go. These are solutions that the team believes should continue for optimum productivity and efficiency.

Setting up this retrospective is relatively easier than other formats. There isn’t much of a learning curve for this one. The team members have the platform to brainstorm ideas and speak their minds in a regulated environment that only benefits projects. These things can be both technical and behavioral, depending on how important they are to address after the team is finished with their reflection on activities.

Pros and Cons

All retrospectives have their pros and cons depending on how impactful they are, how user-friendly the templates are, and how effectively they help in project management and leadership. Start, stop continue, it is an easy-to-use and safe format that promotes efficiency within a team. It involves the members in communication for direct action and highlights flaws or any room for improvement in a development team. All members get a chance to reflect on their work, diagnose what worked and what did not, and identify what’s better for the team with consensus to improve further. The retrospective gets the mind running and sets a certain pace during the session, thus building momentum in the team. The best part is that it’s pretty straightforward and does not require any particular method or tool to be carried out in a meeting.

Despite the advantages, there are a few weaknesses in this agile retrospective format. When brainstorming ideas and pointers, there remains a possibility of someone being a bystander by not contributing to the session. It could either be due to respondent fatigue or the thought of someone else bringing their idea to the table later. Moreover, with the continuous flow of ideas coming up, team members can get sidetracked and lose focus during the session unless there’s someone to maintain order.

 This also leads to spending additional time than the retrospective allows before or after the sprint, especially if there are more actions and measures to consider that are deemed important. These points can be overshadowed by the noteworthy benefits of this format, but as a team leader, it is up to you to not let them go unnoticed and keep the team on task. Helpful tools only go so far, after all.

 Additionally, depending on your team’s unique dynamic, you may work better with a less structured format. Lean coffees [LINK] or mad, sad glad [LINK] retros may be better fits for teams that want to air grievances or just kick around some ideas.

Bottom Line

The start, stop continue retrospective prioritizes teamwork by ensuring the efficiency and productivity of all members, without leaving room for any back-channel communication. This method lets the members weigh their ideas, comprehend the effect of those, discuss them in a team, and then take the important measures through a consensus. The teams have the opportunity to look through the past and into the future to decide what implementations might prove beneficial and what activities need to be halted. Through this retro, the team develops a sense of teamwork and effective collaboration in a professional environment, while boosting their energy and productivity.

With such an influence on team decisions and profit, it is crucial to understand the different agile retrospective formats and choose one which is suitable for your team. Whichever retrospective you end up with, such as start, stop continue, in this case, will have an impact on your team and organization. As a responsible scrum master or project manager, you get to decide what’s the ideal option after reflecting on the needs and workflow of the team as of that moment.

Try the RetroTeam app in your team today. Setup is simple and no signup is required. See the benefits of a no-nonsense productivity tool in your team’s work.