Start Stop Retrospective

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
  • 4Ls retrospective
  • Agile retrospective
  • Starfish retrospective
  • Anchors and engines
  • DAKI retrospective

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.

Cross Device Compatibility

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