4Ls retrospective is a brainstorming technique used by project teams to review their progress and identify ways to improve moving forward. This retrospective technique elicits feedback using different questions to a traditional agile retrospective.
The 4Ls retrospective focuses on four areas:
The 4Ls retrospective is simple to set up and requires no special knowledge or equipment to facilitate.
The 4Ls method asks more personal questions compared with other approaches such as an agile retrospective. The result is a greater focus on the team’s attitude and identification of important motivational factors.
Retrospectives allow a project team to:
4Ls is commonly used for software development teams, however its simplicity also makes it useful for:
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Aspects of the project the team feels went really well.
These are things that should continue as the project moves forward.
Knowledge team members gained over the previous period.
This includes technical and nontechnical learnings. They inform actions and changes for the next cycle.
Aspects of the project that didn’t go so well.
The team tries to find solutions for these issues and plans actions to improve.
Things that were unavailable during the previous cycle that would improve the project.
The team tries to work out how to obtain or implement these aspects.
A project retrospective is an opportunity for the team to share their experience of the previous project cycle and focus on what to improve in the future, so it’s important to have all members involved. When teams are distributed across different locations, it can be difficult to get everyone together at the same time.
Screen sharing software and video conferencing allow facilitators to use traditional brainstorming tools such as whiteboards and sticky notes but there may still be issues ensuring everyone’s voice is heard. Online collaboration software such as GroupMap solves many of these problems and provides a cost-effective means of getting a great result.
The time to run a 4L’s retrospective meeting will vary depending on the scope of the session. Setting and keeping to “timeboxes” for each stage can help streamline the process. Teams should be able to identify and prioritize issues and develop an action plan in less than 30 minutes.
Discuss and populate each section of the 4Ls retrospective template.
Discuss and group any common themes.
Vote on the key areas you need to take action on.
Identify actions for each priority idea. Assign responsibility and timeframes to a group or individual.
Share the outcomes of the session, including the action plan, to relevant stakeholders.
Revisit the “Prime Directive” to lay the ground rules and establish expectations for behavior during the meeting.
Regardless of what we discover, we understand and truly believe that everyone did the best job they could, given what they knew at the time, their skills and abilities, the resources available, and the situation at hand.
4L ideas may be gathered individually or as a group using a whiteboard, sticky notes, Google Docs, or a specialized online collaboration tool such as GroupMap.
Start by capturing ideas for “Liked” and then move onto the other three quadrants in order. Each idea should be made visible to everyone, and discussed, clarified, and challenged where necessary, to ensure all participants have a shared understanding.
It’s important to drill down to the root cause of each idea and support it with data where possible. That includes things that went well and those which didn’t.
Organize the ideas by removing duplication, combining those which are thematically similar, and discarding any which aren’t in scope.
The final statements should be specific and actionable, rather than just general opinion.
With the template fully populated, the team votes on which ideas provide greatest opportunity for improvement and therefore should be actioned.
The usual method of voting is to give each team member between one and five votes which they allocate to those issues they feel are the most critical to address. The result is a visual indication of the team’s priorities.
Develop solutions for priority issues and identify what actions to take. The key to this step is to focus on a few critical activities that can be accomplished with the resources available, rather than try and solve everything all at once. Escalate critical issues that cannot be solved with the team’s current capabilities.
It’s important to assign measurable goals or success criteria to each action so progress can be assessed in subsequent meetings.
Compile and distribute the final list of priorities and actions required of team members to:
GroupMap automatically generates visually appealing reports and action plans in several formats for distribution, saving time and effort after the analysis.
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