Thursday, June 24, 2010

The 4L’s: A Retrospective Technique

by Mary Gorman and Ellen Gottesdiener

We liked it when a good thing took on a life of its own.
We learned that it really resonated with many folks.
We lacked sharing the full understanding of the technique.
We longed for more sharing.

Liked Learned Lacked Longed For

At the recent Deep Agile event, Mary briefly mentioned a 3Ls’ technique she used in a recent  retrospective (Liked, Lacked, Longed For).  A few folks tweeted about it, and it took off in the web’o’sphere

To fulfill our longing to share and provide some background, keep reading to learn how we use this technique.

Many moons ago we wanted some variety in eliciting feedback, collectively sharing that feedback and exploring action possibilities.  We decided to create a variation of World Café whereby areas of the room are used to focus on a specific retrospective topic. It has proven to be very useful for iteration and project retrospectives as well as for retrospection of training and conference events.

Typically we use all 4 L’s. But whichever you choose to use, we recommend that you don’t drop the “longed for, which can provide some very powerful data!

Steps for the 4 L’s

1. Hang four posters, one for each L, around the room, titled appropriately.

2. Ask people to individually jot down what they Liked, Learned, Lacked, and Longed For – one per sticky note.  When the time is up (3-4 minutes), they silently place their notes on each poster.

3. Divide the group into four subgroups; assign an “L” poster to each subgroup. They read all the notes, cluster as appropriate and identify themes.

4. Each team reports out on the themes.

5. The entire group decides how they might use the data.  For example, ask, “How can we satisfy the ‘lacked’ or ‘longed for’ items?

Variations You Can Try

  • Use color stickies, one color per “L”.  See our photo on this blog for an example of how we used color.
  • Select a subset of the L’s, but remember the power of “longed for”.
  • At step 2: Instead of each person writing their own 4 L’s, split group into 4 teams and assign each team to one of the L’s. Each team collectively identifies, discusses and writes points. (Plan for more time to allow for discussion.) After posting their items onto their assigned “L” poster, ask teams to rotate to each of the other 3 posters, adding items that occur to them.
  • After step 3: Facilitate a “gallery walk around” whereby people walk around and read what’s on the 3 other posters.

In the spirit of learning, we’d like to hear how you use this retrospective technique!

Resources

Topics: Agile, Agile Business Analysis, Agile Planning, agile requirements, Agile Workshops, Business Analysis, Business Analysis Training, Business Value, collaboration, Deep Agile, Deep Agile Games, Facilitation, Learning, retrospectives, Workshops

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15 Responses to “The 4L’s: A Retrospective Technique”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by ellen gottesdiener, ellen gottesdiener. ellen gottesdiener said: posted: (origin of #LLL) w @mbgorman http://bit.ly/4Lretro "4L's #Retrospective Technique" #agile #baot #agilepm #agilepm […]

  2. […] Liked/Lacked/Longed For From the Deep Agile conference in Boston, Tobias Mayer used Twitter to highlight this variation. He tweeted, “#deepagile bringing poetry into retrospectives… liked, lacked, longed for.” I think of this as the Jane Austen version of Short Subjects. I look forward to bringing it to a team that has just experienced a difficult or poignant iteration or retrospective. (Late breaking news: Ellen Gottesdiener tells me that Mary Gorman was the person who introduced LLL at Deep Agile. Thanks, Mary!) (Even later breaking news: Ellen and Mary give a fuller description of their 4L’s activity.) […]

  3. […] The 4L’s is a retrospective technique put forth by Mary Gorman and Ellen Gottesdiener.  Teams like this format in that it’s quick and forces all parties in the room to interact.   The 4L’s are: Liked, Learned, Lacked, and Longed For.  As you can see, the 4L’s give people a simple area to focus their thoughts that can easily be translated into issues and or stories for the backlog.  Here’s how it works (taken straight from Mary’s and Ellen’s Blog): […]

  4. […] facilitated the latest retrospective my team had last week and decided to try The 4 L’s technique which I’d come across while browsing the ‘retrospectives’ tag on […]

  5. Rob Bowley says:

    I’ve posted your retrospective plan on the Agile Retrospective Resource wiki (and credited). Hope you don’t mind but if you do please let me know and I’ll remove it.

    Rob

  6. […] to share my experience with this webinar, and I couldn’t think of a better way than utilizing the 4 L retrospective technique that Ellen Gottesdiener discussed on her blog: Liked, Learned, Lacked, Longed […]

  7. […] process. So I grabbed a promising technique from the Agile Retrospective Resource Wiki called the Four L’s, which Mary Gorman and Ellen Gottesdiener of EBG Consulting developed as a variation of the World […]

  8. Admin says:

    we’re honored!

  9. Terry Wiegmann says:

    My team just tried a variation of Ellen Gottesdiener & Mary Gorman’s 4Ls retro
    that was fun.

    For what we Learned, we used a witch’s caldron
    For what we Like, we used a bowl of trick or treat candy
    For what we want to Lose, we used a coffin with an RIP headstone
    For what we Long for, we used the Great Pumpkin from Charlie Brown

    We held this retro offsite at a coffee shop, so, alas, didn’t have physical
    props, but 4 images that we placed item cards on. We have used 4 Ls before so
    the technique was familiar; applying a seasonal theme kept it fresh!

  10. […] Liked / Lacked / Learned / Longed For – Clarifies current status and indicates areas of growth that are beginning to develop […]

  11. […] The 4L’s is a retrospective technique put forth by Mary Gorman and Ellen Gottesdiener.  Teams like this format in that it’s quick and forces all parties in the room to interact.   The 4L’s are: Liked, Learned, Lacked, and Longed For.  As you can see, the 4L’s give people a simple area to focus their thoughts that can easily be translated into issues and or stories for the backlog.  Here’s how it works (taken straight from Mary’s and Ellen’s Blog): […]

  12. jeremy says:

    I’ve used GroupMap for their 4 L retrospective. Good for online teams or when you want to get anonymous, honest answers fast. I didn’t have to worry about post it notes and whiteboards. We could also vote on key actions points to decide on actions to take forward. We could then go through each of the sections to discuss and work out what we wanted to do for the next time.

  13. ellen@ebgconsulting.com says:

    thanks for sharing this tool for distributed teams using 4L (the link is http://www.groupmap.com/).
    ~ ellen

  14. ???? says:

    Hi there, I do think your blog may be having browser compatibility problems.
    Whenever I take a look at your site in Safari, it looks fine however, if opening in I.E.,
    it’s got some overlapping issues. I merely wanted to provide you with a quick heads up!

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  15. ellen@ebgconsulting.com says:

    thanks for the heads up, we think we have it all set.

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