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The Start-Stop-Continue Exercise: How To Conduct One (+Template)

The Start-Stop-Continue Exercise: How To Conduct One (+Template)

If you’re looking for an exercise to run with your team to help improve their performance and increase collaboration, there’s no shortage of options on Google. However, not all of those options will actually be able to help you achieve that goal.

One that will, though, is the start-stop-continue exercise.

When done correctly, this exercise prompts reflection, kickstarts meaningful conversations, and encourages collaboration among employees. In addition, since it’s tied to a specific challenge or opportunity your team is currently facing, it’s easier than some other exercises for everyone to see its intended purpose.

Whether the idea of a start-stop-continue is new to you or you’ve never conducted an exercise like this as a leader, this article will prove helpful as it contains the information you need to get started, along with an editable start-stop-continue template.


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What Is A Start-Stop-Continue?

A start-stop-continue is relatively simple; it’s a retrospective exercise that helps you decide what you’re going to start doing, what you’re going to stop doing, and what you’re going to continue doing. Typically, it is completed by a group of people, such as a department or functional team, but it is also an exercise you can do as an individual.


When To Use a Start-Stop-Continue

One of the great things about the stop-start-continue exercise is that it can be used in a variety of situations, including:


Start of a New Year

Whether it’s the start of the calendar year or your company’s fiscal year, a start-stop-continue is a great way to get your team thinking about they can improve and make the coming year better than the last. 



If you need to address a pattern of mistakes with your team but want to do so in a way that isn’t detrimental to their confidence, try using the stop-start-continue exercise. Ask them what they could start doing, stop doing, and continue doing that would prevent the mistake from happening again. This approach ensures everyone is focused on moving forward and taking action rather than dwelling on the error.


Change Initiative

When introducing and implementing a change initiative, it is a good idea to go through the stop-start-continue exercise, so your team knows what they will need to start, stop, and continue doing to implement the change successfully. In addition, this exercise helps with change adoption, as employees are personally involved in the change effort as they have input in adjusting their workloads to accommodate the needed changes.


Poor Performance

When your team hasn’t been hitting their targets or goals, you can use the stop-start-continue to help the team identify why that is and what can be done about it.


Annual Planning

During the period when you conduct your annual planning, set budgets, and create goals, use the start-stop-continue exercise to help you make decisions as a team.


How To Conduct a Start-Stop-Continue Exercise

A start-stop-continue is a simple team exercise to conduct. As the name suggests, there are three parts to it. During each part, you should ask a variety of open-ended questions that get your team thinking and collaborating with one another. Here is a list of questions to get you thinking: 



  • What do we need to start doing?
  • Is there a tool, process, or resource that would help us achieve our goals?
  • What strengths do we have that we aren’t currently leveraging?


  • What do we need to stop doing?
  • Are we doing something that is holding us back?
  • What do we do that takes up a lot of resources but doesn’t produce significant results?
  • Is there a tool or process that isn’t working the way it was intended to?


  • What are we doing right that we need to continue doing?
  • What works well that shouldn’t change?

Questions to Ask During a Start-Stop-Continue  - Niagara Institute


Next Steps: Use The Start-Stop-Continue Template to Get Started

Now that you know what a start-stop-continue is, when it should be used in the workplace, and the types of questions to ask during the exercise, it’s time to put it all into action with the help of this start-stop-continue template. The template is meant to be a jumping-off point that evolves as you figure out what it takes to maximize your team’s participation in the start-stop-continue exercise.

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