The Keep—Start—Stop Approach

Spring-cleaning business operations to operate at peak performance.

By Callie Verderosa

It’s finally spring! March 19th was the official change in season, even if it didn’t quite feel that way this year. For many, the warmer weather and flowers blooming usually signifies that it’s time for some much-needed spring cleaning, where we pause to quite literally, deep clean our houses, or donate clothes from our closets.  It can also be a chance for us to dedicate time to spring clean our workloads, daily routines, or the way we conduct business operations. And, if you’re among the many organizations that have been upended in response to COVID-19, it makes for an unexpected opportunity to reconsider how we can approach our work. 

We can spring-clean business and operations through a Keep-Start-Stop exercise. This framework identifies the items to continue doing, the items to start doing, and the items to stop doing. Let’s break down Keep Stop and Start so you can get started to maximize regular work productivity and efficiency.


The Keep area includes tasks, or actions that you or your organization should continue doing. This is the area of tasks or actions that are most valuable to your team’s success, growth and progress. These are things the team wants, likes, and needs to do because the outcomes that these tasks, actions, and goals provide are worth the time and energy spent. They drive the mission of the organization, and they help you reach your goals.

To get started in the Keep area, ask yourself:

  • What meetings, business tactics and action items are moving the organization’s mission forward? 
  • What are the specific things we’re doing that are generating revenue or bringing in clients? (i.e. developing products, engaging with clients, offering services)
  • What is the team excelling at, or what processes are in place that are streamlined from start to finish?
  • What area of operation does the team enjoy participating in, or supporting?


The Start area is a place where you can jot down all of the fresh ideas you have to move your organization forward—things you’re not doing now, or may have done once or twice in the past, but that you’d like to start doing regularly. Maybe these are new goals, objectives, or tactics for your team, department, or yourself. Although the next few months might be up in the air for your organization and your team, spending time in the Start area will focus time and attention on the things that will bring added value to your work or organization.

To get started in the Start area, ask yourself:

  • What should the team be doing to engage clients, produce revenue, increase results?
  • What times have we operated at peak performance? And, how do we expose the organization to more situations like that? (i.e. working with certain clients, developing products or services)
  • If the team had all the time in the world and money was no object…what would we do, develop, or create?


These are the tasks or actions that need to stop—things that don’t advance the mission, reach goals, or drive results. On top of that, they waste time, are inefficient, or are impractical.  These things might fall victim to tradition, and the reason the team does it is because “it has always been done this way.” They might be things that haven’t been phased out or updated because there isn’t time to reimagine a better process. 

To get started in the Stop area, ask yourself:

  • Are there outdated processes that can be automated or eliminated to allow staff to spend time elsewhere?
  • Are there countless meetings that take up valuable project time for your team (that could be emails?)
  • Is there a more efficient way of performing a task? (i.e. a software to invest in, a potential area for staff hiring)

Spring isn’t just a time to finally clean the baseboards, or donate old clothes.  Investing in spring cleaning for your organization or personal work process this season will guarantee your organization moves in the right direction so you feel ready to tackle the rest of the year. 

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