The starfish retrospective is the perfect generic retrospective. Most Scrum masters start one of their first retrospectives with the starfish retrospective, and most teams have tried it. Because the starfish retrospective is generic it can be used in almost any retrospective. You can imagine that is one of the reasons it is so popular.

The prerequisites for this retrospective are simple, a whiteboard, some markers and post-its. Or a digital whiteboard for distributed teams.

Format

The starfish retrospective gets its name from the resemblance of a starfish when the board is divided up in the five categories, it looks just like a starfish. The starfish retrospective looks as following:

The starfish retrospective format
The starfish retrospective format

The five categories for the starfish can be described:

CategoryDescription
Keep doingThe category for the team to put things in that worked for them, and what they would not like to miss.
More ofThings that happened that they liked, but could be used more.
Less ofThings that happened that the team did not like, but does not want to stop completely with.
Start doingThings that the team did not do in the last sprint, but what they feel could help the team.
Stop doingThings the team is absolutely not happy with. What is something we need to stop with!
The categories for the starfish retrospective

When all post-its have been placed on the whiteboard, you may use any technique on gathering action points. For example dot voting.

Conclusion

The power of this retrospective is that the form is simple, with a minimal explanation anyone can participate in this retrospective. Another positive aspect of this retrospective is that since there are 5 categories, it can be easier to place your post-its. There are more choices than just “good” or “bad”.

If you need a generic retrospective the starfish retrospective is an excellent pick! No nonsense and easy to understand. If you have some specifics you want to target with the retrospective, or are looking for a more advanced retrospective? Then it might be better to look for a better suiting retrospective form.

This retrospective is part of the retrospective challenge for 2020. Interested in more retrospective forms? Sign up for the newsletter, and you will be up to date on new retrospectives!