On a Scrum project, we hold a retrospective at the end of every sprint, to determine how to be more effective. There are lots of ways of collecting this type of discussion, and one of the most popular is Start, Stop and Continue, or it’s cousin, Do More, Do Less, Keep Doing. Something has been bothering me about this approach. Yeah, that “continue” thing…I advise teams that I’m coaching that they should focus on one or at most two things to try to change in a given sprint. Because change is hard, if we focus on too many things to try to change, we may in fact change NONE of them successfully. Better to tackle one thing and focus on it.

Teams seem to like the “start, stop, continue” motif, where we identify things we want to start doing, less effective things that we want to stop doing, and things that we want to continue to do. Here’s where the problem lies in my mind. If the team decides the thing that is most important for them to do is to continue doing something, then we’re really not making changes to be more effective: we’re continuing with the status quo.

It’s a good idea for team members to call out things to continue doing, but from where I sit, that’s primarily as a point of discussion with other team members who may disagree, and think we should perhaps do less.

I’ve arrived at the point where I give “continue” items a free pass through to the next sprint, and ask the team to identify one or two things to “start” or “stop” doing, rather than two things from any of the categories. After all, if you’re already doing it, you don’t have to focus on it…


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