Have you ever completed the Start/Stop/Continue exercise with your team?
If not, you are missing out on an incredible opportunity for strengthening the health and operations of your organization. And there has been no better time than now to reassess the efforts of your organization. Many things have had to both start and stop because of this pandemic. People have more grace than ever for change. Use this momentum and understanding to ignite changes that have needed to happen for quite some time.
If you dread team-bonding exercises or feel like they are a waste of time, then Start/Stop/Continue will change your mind!
This exercise I am about to teach you will:
- Help your team be more productive
- Encourage deeper collaboration
- Assess what tasks are working and which aren’t
- Streamline your resources and get you on a straighter path toward you mission
The team you choose to gather for this conversation is up to you. Sometimes it’s department focused, the entire staff, and other times it’s just your executive team. You know your teams best, so choose the people who will add diverse perspectives while also having the organization’s best interest in mind.
The exercise is comprised of these three questions to help you assess the efficacy of your efforts:
- What should we START doing?
- Things that are not being done, but should be done
- Things that are new and worth trying or experimenting with
- Things we should do to be more effective and efficient
- Things that help address new realities or gaps
- What should we STOP doing?
- Things that are not working or not contributing to desired results
- Things that are impeding progress, counterproductive, or are no longer practical
- Things that are no longer cost-effective
- Things we or others dislike but have continued because it’s “what you’ve always done”
- What should we CONTINUE doing?
- Things that are working well
- Things that show potential but need improving
- Things that we like or want to keep
- Pieces of processes or programs that we want to stop, but others we want to continue to avoid “throwing the baby out with the bath water”
Before you begin, pick a topic/department/program/initiative to assess.
This exercise is flexible enough to work for all topics (both personal and work-related). You can even do it by yourself, with a pair or in a large group. The first thing you want to do is pick a topic area. The different topics my church teams have completed over time were on:
- Weekend services
- Social Media
- Student Ministry
- Children’s ministry
You can see why you can’t assess all of these at once. Choose one at a time and work through that to focus your efforts.
Make it personal.
Ask your teams to write down their involvement around the topic (it helps if they write one at a time on sticky notes):
- What tasks do you do related to this topic?
- What tasks do you think should be done related to this topic but aren’t being done?
- What ideas do you have about this topic?
Next, place the tasks.
Now that everyone has written their tasks, they should begin to place them on a large white board or table with three columns.
Start Column: People should place their sticky note in this column if they think it’s a task that should be started; meaning, it’s not being done at all or enough right now.
Stop Column: People should place their sticky note in this column if they think it’s a task that should be stopped; it’s not productive or effective.
Continue Column: People should place their sticky note in this column if they think it’s a task that should be continued.
Here is where one of my ministry teams placed the tasks above when assessing content/social media:
- LinkedIn posting to help ministry leaders with content
- Instagram stories on Sundays
- Hire professional photographer to capture images each Sunday
- Posting the same exact content on all platforms
- Worship song previews on socials
- YouTube channel
- Facebook live streaming
- Email newsletters
- Instagram posts daily
Once all the sticky notes/tasks are placed, have everyone sit back down and review what is in each column.
This is where you can discuss and debate the list. Any disagreements? Explanations that need to be made? Do it now! This is the best part of the exercise because it allows people to re-evaluate tasks that they or others might be doing that don’t serve them.
What if there are disagreements? Good! Then the activity is really getting to the heart of the matter. There will likely be some that don’t have a resolve in this meeting. For that reason, I like to put questionable tasks in between columns (those are often items that need a separate meeting or time to play out).
*Be sure to create a safe space. Make it clear that every idea is welcome and no idea should be shot down too quickly.
Assignments + Action
Once everyone is happy with the board, assignments/re-assignments/action should be taken. - -
- What tasks should be reassigned?
- Who is closing up or ending the “Stop” tasks?
- Who is on point for the “Start” tasks?
Pull out your to-do lists and your calendars and make each task an action step.
It’s important you do this exercise now, before everyone gets back into the swing of things and back to old habits/expectations. Utilize the nature of this time to your advantage and start cleaning up your efforts to help you make a bigger impact.