What is the Four L (4L’s) Retrospective?
The 4Ls stands for Liked, Learned, Lacked and Longed For and was initially developed by Mary Gorman and Ellen Gottesdiener. It is a simple and popular technique for scrum masters and their team to highlight the positives (liked and learned), as well as the negative (lacked and longed for) from both a factual and emotional perspective. You can read the original blog post The 4Ls: A Retrospective Technique.
Changing the way you run retrospectives from time to time can reveal new insights. The questions might be subtle but by moving away from the traditional agile retrospective and allowing people to be more engaged from a “heart and mind” perspective can switch up people’s thinking and open up new insights.
The 4L Retrospective Format
If you listen out to what your team says at the water cooler, you’ll find that they tend say things like “if only we have…” or “I wish we had…”. On the flip side, they also say things like “Guess what I found out…” and “I really loved…”
The 4Ls retrospective is designed to get people to share those thoughts as part of being agile and with the aim of continuous improvement.
It is based around the following key theme:
Liked – What did people like about the last sprint run? This could be anything from a process, an achievement, a particular team action or even a technology.
Learned – What things did the team learn from experiments, testing, conversation and from working with each other. These are any new discoveries, points of interest or highlights.
Lacked – What seemed to be missing from the last iteration? On reflection, this might be something that was unclear or needed to be implemented to ensure that things continue to run smoothly.
Longed for – What is something that they wish existed or was possible that would ensure that the project would be successful.
By asking these questions, it can help open up the team to sharing their thoughts, bring out new ideas and foster a sense of being heard.