What is a start stop retrospective?

A start stop retrospective is a simple and effective way for teams to reflect on their recent experiences and decide on what things they should change as they move forward.

  • Start – activities are those things the team will begin doing in the next cycle.
  • Stop – looks back at the previous cycle of the project to identify which things didn’t work and should cease.

Why do a start stop retrospective?

The start stop retrospective is one of the simplest project review techniques and requires no special equipment or knowledge to complete.

This technique starts by identifying actions that team members think they should “do” rather than “ideas and issues” that require solutions and then the development of an action plan as with Agile and 4Ls Retrospectives.

This retrospective technique:

  • Gives teams an opportunity to review how they are going and identify improvements they can implement in the future.
  • Makes it easier for teams to clarify issues, weight the impact of ideas, and reach a consensus based on shared priorities.
  • Is very action orientated and provides momentum and energy for the team. Each item on the list results in behavioral change.
  • Empowers teams to continuously improve the way they work.

Who should do a start stop retrospective?

Because of it’s simplicity this retrospective method is suitable for:

  • All kinds of project teams including software development
  • Program reviews
  • Executive reviews
  • Personal performance evaluations
Start Stop Retrospective
Related templates
  • Use technology to involve critical people in different locations rather than miss their contribution.
  • Minimize Groupthink by brainstorming ideas individually then combining issues to get the overall picture.
  • Be specific rather than broad when defining actions.
  • Provide adequate time in the session to discuss and vote on actions.

Check out our online retro tool TeamRetro

Start stop retrospective template


Activities that may:

  • improve processes
  • reduce waste
  • have a positive impact on the way the team operates

As with “stop” activities, consider both technical and behavioral aspects.


Activities that:

  • are inefficient
  • waste time or resources
  • have a negative impact on the way people feel or the way things work

Activities on this list may be technical or behavioral things and should cease.

How to run a start stop retrospective

A start stop retrospective is one of the simplest review tools. It require no specialized equipment or skills, other than the ability to facilitate group discussions.

If the review team is scattered over different locations, there are challenges ensuring everyone is involved, and facilitators may need to look beyond the usual sticky notes and whiteboards to video conferencing, web-based applications such as Google docs, and specialized online collaboration tools such as GroupMap.

Most start stop retrospectives will take less than 20 minutes. You can time-box stages of the process to keep the team on track.


Discuss and populate the two columns of the start stop retrospective template.


Discuss and group any common themes.


Vote on the key areas you need to take action on.


Share and communicate the outcomes of the session to relevant stakeholders.

Team members think about what actions they should start and stop doing as a team. This step can be done individually or in small groups, then combined to reflect the whole team’s outlook.

Use a whiteboard or poster paper with sticky notes, an online document such as Google Docs, or a specialized online collaboration tool such as GroupMap.

The important idea in this step is that items must be “activities” as opposed to the “ideas” generated by other review techniques such as 4L’s and Agile Retrospectives. The items in each list are already actions, so the action planning step is not necessary.

Make each action visible to the whole group so they can be discussed, clarified, and challenged where necessary, to ensure shared understanding.

Combine all individual contributions, group duplicates or similar actions, and discard those which aren’t in scope.

Once the final list of actions is clarified, the team votes on the most important moving forward.

Allocate each team member one or more votes to distribute across the action lists according to their priorities. They can choose between single or multiple votes per action.

The result is a prioritized list of what the team will start and stop doing during the next project cycle.

Compile and distribute a report on the retrospective outcomes to the team. GroupMap automatically generates visually appealing reports and action plans in several formats for distribution, saving time and effort after the analysis.

Save effort, time, and money with GroupMap

Getting your best people together to work on strategy is critical to the success of your business. But group activities have an opportunity cost and it’s essential to optimize your time and effort. GroupMap is the effective way to brainstorm, discuss, and decide, and solves many of the problems commonly associated with group activities.

Cross Device Compatibility

Whether you have your best minds together in the same room, or distributed around the world, GroupMap’s unique technology allows groups of up to 2000 to submit ideas independently at separate times, from different places, in different timezones. Prevent dominant personalities swaying the group, drowning out the opinions of others – GroupMap allows everyone to brainstorm independently then effortlessly combines that information to reveal the full spectrum of ideas. GroupMap templates keep the objective front and center throughout the session, keeping everyone on task. This ensures the activity identifies actionable issues rather than becoming just a discussion on ideas. GroupMap gives you all the group decision making tools you need to prioritize, decide and take action.

Create your first map and invite people in to start sharing their thoughts right NOW. Experience the power of GroupMap with our 14-day, no risk, FREE trial. You don’t even need to provide your credit card details to access to all of our features, including the entire suite of templates, for a full 14 days.

Think better together with GroupMap