What is a Start Stop Continue retrospective?

Try a live demo with our fun bots

The start stop continue retrospective is an action-oriented retrospective style, generating an immediate list of practical ideas for continuous improvement. This retrospective technique hones in on the plus/delta aspects and is a must have tool for any scrum master or project manager.

A great way of introducing the start stop continue thinking style is to use the metaphor of a car at a traffic light (Green for start, red for stop and orange for continue). This exercise allows you to reallocate time and resources to where it matters the most.

Example Start Stop Continue Retrospective
  • Start – List ideas that the team should be doing but are not doing, innovative ideas worth discussing to address current problems.
  • Stop – List ideas that are not delivering results or might be driving people a little crazy – such as unnecessary bureaucracy.
  • Continue – List ideas that are creating value or should not be dismissed yet because the outcome is not yet known.

As best practice, remember to set the stage and ensure that people are reminded that is not a process of blame, but for identifying areas for change. If you have run this retrospective method several times before, you should see greater fidelity of ideas. If there are recurring items, this should be a treated as a red flag.

Suggested Icebreaker questions for Start, Stop, Continue

  • What have you recently started?
  • Would you rather start a good habit or stop a bad one?
  • What’s something from your childhood you’re keen to see continue?

Retro Rehearsal

Invite your team to rehearse the retro referencing something in a TV show

For example, what should the nightly news start, stop or continue doing?

Facilitation Tips

Trigger questions – Use these “inspiration” questions to power up your team think tank (originally proposed by David Ciccarelli)
  • Start
    • A new person has joined our project team. What would be a new task that they could be assigned?
    • Our budget has now doubled. What should we do?
    • Good news, our customer has extended our deadline. What’s something new we could include to delight them?
  • Stop
    • What is something on your to do list that you never get to?
    • If we lost a person in our project team, what would we have to lose to still meet deadlines?
    • What’s something that is driving you crazy?
  • Continue
    • What activities in this project are giving you the most joy?
    • Whats something that we do that defines and promotes our culture?
    • What is something that our customer loves us doing?
Want something simpler and faster? Consider the condensed start stop retrospective format instead.

How to run a Start Stop Continue retrospective in TeamRetro

Start Agile Retrospective

Start your retrospective in a click
Log into TeamRetro and choose your sprint retrospective template.

Invite Your Team
Invite your team easily – no separate accounts needed
Send an email invite, a link or add to your Slack channel to get people started quickly. SSO options are also available.
Agile Retrospective Brainstorm
Time to brainstorm
Each team member can now brainstorm individually under each topic. This avoids group think and allows everyone to have their say. They can indicate when they have finished, or you can set a timer so that you know when to move onto the next stage.
Grouping of ideas after brainstorming in a retrospective meeting
Group related ideas
Drag and drop  related ideas to combine them for easier voting. TeamRetro can also automatically suggest ideas that are similar, saving you and your team valuable time.
Grouping of ideas after brainstorming in a retrospective meeting
Vote independently to avoid anchoring
Each team member votes on what they would most like to discuss further. The results won’t be displayed to everyone until you advance to Discuss.
Grouping of ideas after brainstorming in a retrospective meeting

Discuss the most important things first
You and your team discuss the top voted ideas and can capture deep dive comments.  Presentation mode allows you to walk your team through ideas one-by-one and keep the conversation focused.

Grouping of ideas after brainstorming in a retrospective meeting

Review and create actions

Easily facilitate discussion by bringing everyone onto the same page. Create action items, assign owners and due dates that will carry through for review at the next retrospective.

Grouping of ideas after brainstorming in a retrospective meeting

Share the results
Once you have finished your retro, you can share the results and actions with the team. Your retro will be stored so you can revisit them as needed.

Congratulations! You’ve just run a retro like a boss.
Want more? Read on.
Try a live demo with our fun bots
Run a Start Stop Continue retrospective now
Have a comment, suggestion or question? We’d love to hear from you.