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The Four L's

The Four L’s is probably one of the simplest retrospectives you can do; super easy to facilitate and super easy for a team to grasp. You could use this retro in practically any team when looking to reflect back on a sprint, project, event or situation.

This activity will draw out a broad range of learnings that covers the good, the bad and the ugly, in a simple and transparent way. It gives everyone a voice and will become an essential retrospective in your toolkit.

Timing & Tools Required

  • 30-90 minutes depending on team size
  • Whiteboard or flip chart
  • Whiteboard pen or marker
  • Post-its
  • Pens for each of your team


  1. Divide the board into four sections & label each section as part of the Four L's:
  2. Liked
  3. Lacked
  4. Loathed
  5. Learned
  6. Hand out post-its to the team and ask them to reflect on each section of the board in reference to the project, sprint, event or situation that this retrospective is following.
  7. Ask the team to write key words or phrases on their post-its and add them to the respective sections of the board (or you can collect them and add them as they write). You may want to verbalise a time-box for this of 10 minutes.
  8. Once everyone is finished adding their post-its, begin to move through the sections one by one and collate similar post-its that appear to have similar themes.You may want to ask: “This is an interesting point, who wrote this?” and encourage team members to talk about their contributions, giving context and clarity.You will find this sparks discussion and there will often be key themes that arise in each section. It wouldn’t be unusual for 20-30 post-its to group into 3-4 main themes that the team share thoughts on.
  9. Once you have been through the Four L's you can begin to ask some challenging questions and draw the team to a conclusion.

Challenging Questions

Asking questions may be helpful to get the team to unpack some of the more complex issues that have been raised through the Four L's. They may be directed at members of the group who’ve had less of a chance to speak. Here are some easy examples:“What is the real issue here?”Great for getting straight to the root of a discussion, especially if the team are going round in circles over a theme.“Is there anything else here that we haven’t covered?”Helps make sure everyone has contributed. Also good for moving a repetitive conversation along.“What advice would you give to another team in this situation?”Enables the team to step out of the picture and look in with a fresh perspective. Helps draw out positive learnings.“Has anyone got a different view on this?”Gives those who maybe don’t agree with the current conversation an opportunity to speak up.“Is there anyone who hasn’t spoken on this theme yet that would like to contribute?”Offers opportunity for the quieter members of the team to speak.


Getting ‘actions’ from a retrospective shouldn’t be the goal, but learnings should crop up quite naturally. Once a topic has been discussed, and you’ve asked those challenging questions, you can finish by asking:

“What can we learn from this and take forward, so we grow as a team?”

Ask this as you move through the board, or at the end once every theme has been covered. It’s a great way to draw the conversation to a positive conclusion and it may naturally provoke an ‘action’ for the team to takeaway.It’s important that you let the team come up with their ‘actions’ and take responsibility for them. A great coach brings awareness and prompts responsibility; this way, the team will feel like they own their actions and are far more likely to follow through.

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