The Starfish retrospective is a technique developed by Patrick Kua to help teams reflect on varying degrees of actions and activities rather than simply the traditional what went well or what did not go well. So rather than just listing down what happened, this asks the team to be more specific and to foster thinking about practices that are generating value. It helps the team members understand how each other person perceives the values of such perspectives.
The goal of the Starfish exercise more about getting people to look at current practices and which ones should have more or less energy directed at them. The activities considered must of course be directly related to the project at hand. This exercise was an extension of the traditional agile retrospective method. It is best run after a few retrospectives have occurred and there has been some period of activity for the team to reflect on.
A breakdown of the Stafish retrospective exercise
The starfish retrospective is divided into the following sections. It is generally recommended that you ask the team to follow this order of brainstorming in order to keep team spirits high, allow issues to surface and then end with positive affirmative action.
Keep Doing – These are things that energize the team, is adding value and something the team is doing well and you recognize the value on it. What are the good things in your project or what will people miss if it isn’t there?
Less Of – These are practices that are already being done but might need refining because it is not currently helpful or productive in the current situation. This could be as simple as a behaviour, an activity or a routine that is not efficient or value adding in its current form.
More Of – These might be practices, technologies or activities that team members think there should be more of or is not currently being taken full advantage of. This might be additional paired programming or running more short sharp meetings.
Stop Doing – These are things that are not bringing value, or even worse, getting in the way. It’s time for these to go.
Start Doing – a new idea, or something you have seen working before that you would like to bring to the table. It might be something simple or just to keep things dynamic and fun.
While the ideal scenario is to do each topic one by one, you can also open it up so that people can add ideas under any of the sections when they are ready. You can then discuss them in the above order.