Why I love ‘I like, I wish, I wonder’

... and which popular activities I never use

This week I ran another workshop on retrospectives, during which participants plan a retrospective (usually the first time they are doing that). While I was hopping through the breakout sessions, I got a super specific question: “When do you use ‘Start Stop Continue’ and when do you use ‘I like, I wish (I wonder)‘?” (I had introduced ‘I like, I wish, I wonder’ earlier in the workshop but not ‘Start Stop Continue’.)

To me, that question is very easily answered because I never use ‘Start Stop Continue’. That’s weird right? It’s one of the best known activities out there and I never pick it. Don’t get me wrong, ‘Start Stop Continue’ is not a bad activity. It’s perfectly adequate and will get results. I just know other activities that I think yield even better results so that I never fall back on ‘Start Stop Continue’.

And why is that? Well, when I see ‘Start Stop Continue’ in action, there’s often duplication: topics that appear in both ‘Start’ and ‘Stop’ just differently phrased. But that’s not unique to this activity and also not a big deal. The better question is perhaps why I love ‘I like, I wish, I wonder’ so much more:

To me, both ‘I wish’ and ‘I wonder’ are invitations to raise issues in a way that is non-threatening. It makes it easier to address hard topics without antagonizing someone and thus easier to talk about. There is no such nudge inherent in ‘Start Stop Continue’. And that’s why I find myself picking ‘I like, I wish, I wonder’ a lot.

PS: Another popular activity that I use even less than ‘Start Stop Continue’ is ‘Starfish‘. IMO it leads to soooo much duplication (way more than ‘Start Stop Continue’) to the point that it makes clustering difficult. But it is undoubtedly popular. If you love using ‘Starfish’, what’s the benefit that I’m missing?

PS: Did you know there's a Retromat eBook Bundle? Ready-made retrospective plans for beginners and all activities from Retromat for experienced facilitators. Check out the Retromat books