Discover the Starfish Retrospective Method

by | 19 June 2024

The Power of Reflection: Discover the Starfish Retrospective Method! 

“To move forward, one must dare to look back.” In the realm of project management, regularly reflecting on completed projects is crucial. Reflection and growth go hand in hand. An effective way to achieve this is through the Starfish Retrospective technique.

This structured approach provides teams with guidance for evaluating their performance and identifying areas for improvement. 

What Is the Starfish Method? 

The Starfish Retrospective is a technique developed by Patrick Kua. Unlike the traditional approach of asking “what went well” or “what went wrong,” this method focuses on varying degrees of actions and activities. Its goal? To encourage teams to examine both current and past activities and determine where more or less energy should be invested. 

The name “Starfish” alludes to the shape of this technique: a starfish with five arms or categories. Each section in the retrospective template represents a specific feedback area around which the team can brainstorm. 

How Does the Starfish Method Work? 

The Starfish method is divided into five categories: 

  • Stop: Which activities should we stop? What adds no value and unnecessarily drains energy? 
  • Less: Which activities can we reduce? Where are we spending too much time? 
  • Continue: What is working well and should be maintained? Which activities yield value? 
  • More: Which activities deserve extra attention? Where should we invest more energy? 
  • Start: What new activities or approaches should we try? Where do growth opportunities lie? 

It is recommended to follow this brainstorming sequence: begin by surfacing problems, then transition to positive affirmations. By doing so, we keep a positive team spirit and create room for improvement.

Tips for Applying the Starfish Retrospective Method 

The Starfish method is an exceptionally effective way to gain profound insights and enhance existing practices. When applying this method, consider the following:

  • Clear objectives: Define clear goals in advance. What do you aim to achieve with this reflection? Ask specific questions such as: “Which aspects of our work do we want to evaluate?” and “What improvements are we striving for?” 
  • Create a safe environment: Ensure that all team members feel comfortable speaking openly and honestly during the retrospective. A safe environment encourages open communication and honest feedback. Everyone should be able to share freely without fear of judgment. 
  • Choose the right tools: Select appropriate tools and techniques to facilitate the retrospective. This can range from physical whiteboards to online tools, depending on available resources and team preferences. Ensure that the chosen tools promote interaction. 
  • Focus on the five categories: Remind the team to think in terms of the five categories of the Starfish method during the retrospective: Stop, Less, Continue, More, and Start. Each category offers valuable perspectives for improvement. 
  • Encourage participation: Motivate all team members to actively participate in the retrospective. Give everyone the opportunity to share their insights and experiences. Listen to different perspectives and ideas. 
  • Follow-Up: Ensure that the insights and action points identified during the retrospective are followed up on. Create a plan to implement desired changes and track progress. 

In summary, the Starfish Retrospective Method is a powerful tool for teams seeking to learn, grow, and collaborate more effectively. Don’t wait any longer—start using the Starfish method today! Need assistance? Schedule a free conversation, and I’ll be happy to guide you! 🌟