The Starfish

The Starfish is a picture template where each arm of the starfish represents a category for team feedback and ideas.

Best For

Encouraging change

When to Use

In the middle of a project

This is an agile retrospective technique with five sections: Keep Doing, Do Less Of, Do More Of, Stop Doing, Start Doing. This retrospective is worth running after a period of time or a few sprints, so the team can properly assess what needs to change.

This format is similar to the Open the Box retrospective; they both directly encourage change. However, the sliding scale of the categories encourage the team to think about making incremental changes over blunt ones - perfect for agile teams. There will be a lot to talk about with five sections, so expect this retrospective to take a little more time than usual.

Plus, who doesn't love this fella? Look at his happy face. (Note, we don't actually know the gender of this starfish - but it turns out that starfish genders can be interesting).

How to run this workshop?

Time needed: 60-90 minutes

Ask the team to address each section in turn, in this order: Keep Doing, Less Of, More Of, Stop Doing, Start Doing. This book-ends the retro with positive emotions, keeping the meaty negative sections in the middle of the retro. For each of the five sections follow this pattern:

  1. Ideate - write sticky notes (5 mins)
  2. Discuss the points raised and group into similar themes (5-10mins)

Then once all sections are completed, use voting to highlight the top three most important themes (5 mins).
Lastly as a team brainstorm and vote on actions for the most important themes, and assign an owner to each (10 mins).

Tips for running this session

  • You can of course have people add their points to all the sections at once, then discuss them in turn without interruption.

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