Sometimes you don’t get as much time as you’d like to prepare your retrospective activity. Sometimes you get dropped into another team to cover, and you don’t know where they’re going to need to take their attention. Sometimes, you just need a simple retrospective up your sleeve that requires no preparation and minimal materials.
Drum roll, please… Stop, Start, Continue.
- Whiteboard/flipchart & marker
- Post-its & pens
- Digital retrospective tool (if team is remote)
- On your whiteboard or flipchart, mark out 3 sections and label them Stop, Start and Continue.
- Explain to the team that for each section, they can add their thoughts on post-its for what they think the team needs to stop doing, start doing, or continue doing.
- Set a timebox for the team to add their thoughts.You can either go through section by section (5 minutes on stop, then 5 minutes on start, then 5 minutes on continue) or you can let the team go through the whole board (15 minutes to add thoughts for stop, start and continue at the same time).
- Once the team have added post-its for each section, you can begin to facilitate a group discussion around the contributions.Work through each section and ask team members if they’d like to explain their contributions before beginning to collate themes.
Asking questions may be helpful to get the team to unpack some of the more complex issues that have been raised, or they may be directed at members of the group who’ve had less of a chance to speak. Here are some easy examples:
“What is the real challenge here?”
Great for getting straight to the root of a discussion, especially if the team are going round in circles over a theme.
“Is there anything else here that we haven’t covered?”
Helps make sure everyone has contributed. Also good for moving a repetitive conversation along.
“What advice would you give to another team in this situation?”
Enables the team to step out of the picture and look in with a fresh perspective. Helps draw out positive learnings.
“Has anyone got a different view on this?”
Gives those who maybe don’t agree with the current conversation an opportunity to speak up.
“Is there anyone who hasn’t spoken on this theme yet that would like to contribute?”
Offers an opportunity for the quieter members of the team to speak.
Getting actions from a retrospective often happens quite naturally, however, sometimes it’s not so straightforward. Once you’re coming to the end of your retrospective timebox you may find yourself in one of two situations:
First, the team may be going round in circles over a theme. This is your time to gently draw the teams focus to a proactive solution and ask:
What could we do here that would make the biggest difference to our performance moving forward?
This is helpful if the team are stuck in a rut of negative conversation and need a positive nudge in the right direction.
The second situation you may find yourself in is one where the team have opened up a really meaty issue and it needs more time for everyone to share their thoughts and discuss.
This is where great facilitation comes into play: ask the team whether they’d like to continue this conversation in the next retrospective, or whether they feel they can identify some tangible actions now. You’ll need to pay close attention to the whole group here and ensure everyone’s voice is heard.
So as you’ve seen – the ‘stop, start, continue‘ retrospective is simple and effective. The ‘continue‘ element often brings out positive feedback and gives the team a chance to reflect on what’s going well, then the ‘stop‘ and ‘start‘ elements allow for constructive discussion on where the team can iterate & improve.
Let us know how you get on.