Run Simple, Action-Focused Retrospectives with the Start, Stop, Continue Template

Run Simple, Action-Focused Retrospectives with the Start, Stop, Continue Template

Have you experienced a repeated workflow frustration, then realized the company could eliminate it with a specific work tool? Have you had an inspired thought about how your team could organize tasks more effectively? Have you been really excited about a new process and wanted to be sure the team continues using it?

Have you sometimes left these thoughts hanging because there’s urgent work to do?

Welcome to the start, stop, continue retrospective, an ideal setting for turning all those great ideas into reality. With the Start, Stop, Continue template, team members bring their best ideas to regularly scheduled meetings. They consider these proposals as a team, then immediately take action to improve the next sprint or project.

Start, Stop, Continue template on
Start, Stop, Continue template on

The Whiteboards app makes this popular retro template even more effective with native Jira integration. Teams take action steps by creating Jira tasks right from the virtual whiteboard. They also import existing Jira issues to Whiteboards and update them to implement the new action points. All updates sync automatically in Jira, and the action plan is underway.

Try out the Whiteboards app today, and keep reading to learn more about running an effective start, stop, continue retrospective.

Start, Stop, Continue retrospective template FAQS

What is a start, stop, continue analysis?

A start, stop, continue analysis (also called a “stop, start, continue retrospective”) is a team retrospective that quickly transforms ideas into actions. Participants bring feedback about the last project or sprint and tell the team what activities they’d like to start, stop, or continue doing. Together the team takes action to:

  • start implementing specific ideas to improve the workflow
  • stop doing activities that impede the work or add no value to it
  • continue doing things that are working well or have promise

Ideas are added to virtual sticky notes and placed on the start, stop, or continue field of the template. Team members discuss these ideas, decide which ones they’ll use, and begin implementing them right away.

When should my team do a start, stop, continue retrospective?

This retrospective’s action-oriented agenda makes it well-suited to brief, frequently recurring team meetings. The most common start, stop, continue example is a scrum master running this retro at the end of each sprint. 

The start, stop, continue retro isn’t just for Agile teams following the scrum framework, though. Whatever workflow model you use, schedule a start, stop, continue analysis at frequent intervals. Your overall goal is to make steady, incremental improvements to each new sprint or project. Together your team irons out inefficiencies, improves collaboration, and ultimately creates a more supportive and productive work environment.

What are the benefits of a start, stop, continue retrospective?

Regular start, stop, continue retrospectives can help you address rising concerns and implement promising new proposals rapidly. Each retro meeting also leads your team to reflect together on the success or failure of the ideas you’ve been trying out.

Here are some things teams can do with regular start, stop, continue meetings:

  • Move from ideas to action quickly. Stop, start, and continue decisions are implemented directly into the next team sprint or project, continuously optimizing workflow.
  • Pinpoint and resolve ongoing frustrations. Redundancies and unnecessary workarounds are eliminated more quickly, and your process keeps adjusting to better accommodate team and individual support needs.
  • Nip rising problems in the bud. Recently identified workflow problems are addressed before they take root, and team members feel reassured that they have a place to bring any growing concerns.
  • Maintain a feedback loop for testing new ideas. Regular start, stop, continue meetings loop you back to assess the action steps you took at the last meeting, as team members propose to stop or continue these activities.
  • Build a more unified and resilient team. Morale improves when team members are empowered to make key improvements in their workplace. Seeing their good ideas bear fruit fosters stakeholders’ sense of ownership and improves team collaboration.

Regular start, stop, continue meetings are a great tool to support any Agile team’s fast-paced workflow. Pause to share new ideas, benefit from this feedback immediately, and build a better process together.

How do I use the Start, Stop, Continue template?

Invite your team members to reflect on the recent sprint or project. Ask them to answer a simple three-part question: What would they like the team to start doing, stop doing, and continue doing? Ideas can address any aspect of the team process or business environment. One person may suggest a better Slack communication strategy. Someone else may propose replacing a design tool that didn’t hit the mark. Another team member may suggest more team perks for reaching goals to boost morale.

An example of the Start, Stop, Continue Template on
An example of the Start, Stop, Continue Template on

Add all the team’s ideas to virtual sticky notes, then place these at the bottom of the appropriate columns on the Start, Stop, Continue template. Consider the ideas one by one with your team. When the team agrees on a proposed action, move that sticky note to the top of the column to indicate you’ll be trying it out.

The team will probably approve some ideas quickly. Multiple team members may have identified the same issue or solution. Some ideas may be instant winners, or at least low-risk enough that the team agrees they’re worth a try. Knock out the easy ones first, then circle back to those that require more negotiation.

Pro tip: to keep your feedback loop tight, always pull in the “start” items from your last start, stop, continue retrospective. Decide which of these activities you will stop doing and which you will continue doing. This way, no new processes escape review. Plus, you get to celebrate the ones that are working well.

Once the template is completed, take action on each approved proposal. Create tasks by converting your sticky notes to Jira issues. Import Jira issues that will need to be modified to reflect the decisions your team just made. Update these issues on the whiteboard, which syncs automatically in Jira. 

Whiteboards’ extensive two-way Jira synchronization lets you move from planning to implementation without leaving the virtual whiteboard. All of your action steps are scheduled by the time you finish the start, stop, continue meeting.

What are the best practices for a start, stop, continue retrospective?

Think through your approach before you start your meeting.

The Start, Stop, Continue template is easy to use. However, good facilitation is still key to a productive meeting. Think through the logistics and structure your meetings to make sure all participants are heard and supported.

Here are some considerations when planning your start, stop, continue meetings:

  • Establish ground rules. You want to encourage honest feedback while also ensuring the dialogue stays constructive and respectful. Be clear with your team what to avoid (for instance, personal criticisms or talking over people). Then enforce these rules gently, and model them yourself.
  • Work toward better inclusivity. Notice if some team members regularly speak up less. Don’t put anyone on the spot or pressure them to talk more than is comfortable. Check in with quieter team members privately to see if there’s any way you can make group participation more appealing to them.
  • Customize your meeting structure. Does it work well for your team to go person by person to give their feedback? Or is it better to let eager volunteers talk first? You can also have team members submit their ideas anonymously before the meeting, and/or vote anonymously to approve or reject ideas during the meeting. Seek team feedback and be creative!
  • Practice good time management. Keep your stop, start, continue meetings brief and action-focused to respect everyone’s time. If your meetings tend to run long, consider limiting the number of ideas each person suggests. Also decide how long you’ll deliberate before voting on an idea, in the event that finding consensus is difficult. Then, use Whiteboards’ Timer option to keep each discussion limited to the time frame you established. 
  • Make sure ideas become reality. Follow through on all approved action steps so the team sees immediate results and stays engaged in the process.

Design a retro ritual that brings out the best in your team. Then hold meetings at regular intervals to keep improving your team processes, one sprint or project at a time.

Need some in-depth retros to supplement your start, stop, continue sessions? Check out Whiteboards’ exciting collection of retrospective templates. Our templates library also has dozens of other templates to assist you with all types of team meetings. Each template syncs with Jira to speed up task deployment. There’s no need to update Jira post-meeting or flip between platforms during meetings.

Start using Whiteboards today, stop doing extra Jira work, and continue growing your business with robust tools and templates that support the success of your people and your product.