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Sprint Retrospective technique – Stop, Start and Continue

Here I’ll look at one of the practical techniques you can use to promote discussion and learning in your Sprint Retrospectives.

 

start stop continue

Start, Stop and Continue

In this technique, team members describe actions they think the team should Start, Stop and Continue doing.

Start items are those that the team haven’t done before but it seems likely they will be of benefit.
For example:

  • Show the software to the customer before the Sprint Review.
  • Ensure everyone has an equal amount of time to speak at the Daily Scrum meeting.
  • Include research time in PBI estimation.

 

Stop items are those which don’t add value or are inefficient.

  • Stop trying to use the latest, in fashion Javascript framework.
  • Don’t work on items that aren’t on the Sprint Backlog.

 

Continue items are those which we think have benefits, but haven’t yet become habit. Including them on the continue list gives us a reminder and ensure we do them in every Sprint.
Any of the previously identified Start/Stop items can go onto the Continue list. They are removed after a few Sprints, to ensure the list doesn’t get too long.

 

Selecting items

There are many ways in which the Scrum Master can ask for suggested items.

  • Simply allow team members to shout out the items.
  • Only allow particular items e.g. the Stop items.
  • Go round the team to ensure that everyone has the chance to put forward their ideas.

 

Voting

Once enough ideas are generated, the team should vote to determine which are the most important. This can take the form of each person voting for their highest priority item, or being allowed a certain number of vote e.g. 3, that they can assign to items as they wish.

 

The Subsequent Sprint Retrospective

At the next Retrospective it can be useful to bring along the list of items. The team can then determine if they have been effective in starting, stopping or continuing the items that were given the highest priority.

 

Conclusion

The Start, Stop and Continue technique is an easy way to generate actions during a Retrospective. It’s easy to grasp and you don’t need any special tools or software (although a physical board for displaying items on is helpful).