Use the Start, Stop, and Continue Exercise to Strengthen Your OrganizationBy The A Group
We’ve reached the halfway mark of the year, a great time to plan team building event to regroup, recharge and reassess your organizational goals. We’re fans of the Start, Stop, And Continue exercise to strengthen the health of your organization.
The 9-5 workday has been disrupted as the pandemic ushered in a new normal of remote work. While team members love working from home (Owl Labs’ 2020 State of Remote Work Report revealed more than two-thirds of employees believe being able to work remotely at least some of the time will make them happier), it does have its downfalls, such as a decrease in cross-team collaboration. According to research published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour, cross-team collaboration decreased by a factor of 25% among 6,000 Microsoft employees in a work-from-home setting.
If your team has been working remotely it’s an especially good time to encourage collaboration. Teamwork is critical for church and nonprofit team members. Even if you dread team-bonding exercises or feel like they are a waste of time, Start/Stop/Continue will change your mind!
This exercise will:
- Increase team productivity
- Encourage deeper collaboration
- Assess what tasks are working and which aren’t
- Help you delegate and/or reassign existing tasks
- Streamline your resources and help you focus on a clearer path toward you mission
The Start/Stop/Continue exercise works well with any size or type team. It’s up to you as to what team you choose to bring together for this conversation. You can select teams by department, limit it to executive staff only or involve your entire staff. 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 another team member or ast part of a large group. The first thing you want to do is pick a topic area. The topics relevant to nonprofit teams could include::
- Social Media
- Email Marketing
- Design and Branding
- Special Events (ie nonprofit anniversaries or Giving Tuesday)
- Volunteer Recruitment
- Donor Relations
Choose one topic at a time in order 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 an example of how one nonprofit team placed the tasks above when assessing content/social media:
Regularly posting to LinkedIn
Utilizing Instagram Stories to Engage Donors
Posting the same content on all social media platforms
Sending out printed newsletter
Using stock photography
Optimizing YouTube channel
Facebook live streaming
Giving Tuesday campaign
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).
*Remember to foster a safe space. Make it clear that every idea is welcome and no idea should be shot down.
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.
Plan now for your Start, Stop, and Continue Doing exercise. It’s a great time to refocus your efforts so that your nonprofit can make a bigger impact.