Agile Retrospectives Start Stop Continue

Revisiting the discussion on agile retrospectives, it is recognized by some as the single most effective practice/ ceremony of Agile. This could be because this exercise:

  1. Brings the team together
  2. The team inspects what it has been doing
  3. The team tries to adapt for better results

On a score of 04 based on Agile Manifesto, Agile Retrospectives would score a 02. They are about individuals and interactions and help the team respond to change. In addition, Agile Retrospectives help the team focus on 02 other principles of the Agile Manifesto : Customer Collaboration and Working Software.

There are various approaches in conducting Agile Retrospectives. One of the most common approach that is advocated by many coaches is “Start, Stop, Continue”. A very simple approach, this type of retrospective is usually conducted as follows:

1. All team members make 3 lists – what is working well and they should Continue doing, what is not working well and should be stopped, and what is something that can be explored/ Started.

2. One-by-one everyone adds their points to a central whiteboard/ list. They can do a plus 1 if what they want is already on the list.

3. After everyone has completed this, the team picks up the items with most “plus 1”.

4. They commit to “some” or “all” items in the 03 lists – Start List, Stop List, Continue List.

5. In the next retrospective, they go back to this list and evaluate how they have done [this can be done in a variety of ways too – everyone votes on whether they were successful in implementing something or not and after this a new Start, Stop, Continue List is drawn].

6. Some people like to keep it mechanical – vote and decide. Others like a lot of brainstorming, discussions and debates. Its useful to have debate on what you are planning to do. The only downside of debates in retrospectives is that more powerful or vociferous attendees may overpower others. Hence, the Scrum Master has to be really good.

This is a relatively simple approach and helps the team inspect and adapt continuously.

P.S. If you are in India, and haven’t taken this “Are we Really Agile Survey” then, I recommend you do so right away : [it will only take a couple of minutes and is straight forward multiple choice survey].

5 Responses to “Agile Retrospectives Start Stop Continue”

  1. There are also 12 principles of agile software that follow the Manifesto (

    Principle #12 says: At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

    So retrospectives are integral to agile development.

    I find that gathering data about the iteration (some examples: stories committed, stories finished, defects, interruptions, high point events, low point events) lead to deeper insights, and help with buy in.

    When teams start with Start/Stop/Continue, each person is working from his own data. Gathering data creates a shared pool of data.


    Esther Derby (co author of Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great)

    • Wow! Thanks for stopping by Esther 🙂

      I plan to touch on more topics in the retrospectives and I was about to touch on how Agile Retrospectives help the team through the 12 principles of Agile Manifesto.

      And of course, your book is a great resource.

  2. […] Agile Diary, Agile Introduction, Agile Implementation Experiences in transition to Agile Project Management « Agile Retrospectives Start Stop Continue […]

  3. I’m quite interested in effective retrospectives, so I’ll be back.



  4. […] Some retrospectives can be more productive than others. We will take a look at more on retrospectives in the future articles. You might also be interested in the Start, Stop, Continue Technique of Agile Retrospectives. […]

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