The "4 Ls" Retrospective

The "4 Ls" Retrospective

4L’s is a popular framework used to run sprint retrospective meetings. It was developed by Mary Gorman and Ellen Gottesdiener and is extremely easy to setup and run. Instead of the usual three questions this one asks participants to answer four. The team gets together and talks about what they liked, learned, lacked and longed for in the past sprint or project. As a result you end up with a lot more feedback with this technique.

Let’s look at what each L stands for:

❤️ Liked

What was your favorite part about the last sprint or project? It could be one or many. Some examples I have seen before:

1.I liked that all information regarding each task was in one place. I did not have to look at different places to get product, design and analytics requirements.
2.I loved how everyone was so helpful when I got stuck on something

🔥 Learned

Every sprint or project provides you an opportunity to learn something. There is no limits or boundaries set on what the learning might be. It could be technical or skill development or something completely unrelated to work. Some example are:

1.I learned about the different APIs that are used with our product
2.I learned to use a new UI library
3.I learned how to look up product usage data in google analytics
4.I learned how paired programming works
5.I was on a support call where I learned how to deal with angry customers

😞 Lacked

Lacked or longed can often be confused with each other. Lacked focuses on what didn’t work in the sprint when looking back. Examples of lacked are:

1.Requirements kept changing through the sprints
2.Some tickets did not have complete requirements
3.Did not have enough time to test the tickets and do a complete regression
4.Communication broke down towards the end of the sprint when the pressure to release was increasing

🧐 Longed For

1.More beta testing for larger features which can help catch breaking changes before the release
2.Increase the number of checkins with the team closer to big releases
3.Some humor to get over release anxiety

As you can see the feedback collected through the 4L’s can vary a lot. It can be tactical or strategic in nature. Or sometimes wishful thinking 🤣 . Unlike some of the other frameworks the 4L’s might not be actionable immediately. It is not designed for it. The goal is to provide an empty canvas to the participants and let them go as wide or narrow on thinking about how things are working.

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