4 Ls Retrospective

A simple interactive technique to assess and reflect on completed projects for future improvements.

What It's Best For

  • Reflection and Improvement
  • Team Building

Time Required

  • 20 mins20 mins

Required Materials

  • Post-its
  • Sharpies
  • Digital Whiteboard (if Remote)


  • Remote or In-person

Ideal Group Size

  • AnyAny

How to use or facilitate:

  1. Give all participants a post-it pad and sharpie.
  2. Explain thinking to the group: The 4 Ls Retrospective is a great way to rid yourself and your team of any habits, activities, or meetings that are no longer serving you. This frees space for new practices more suited to your growth. You’ll also create a plan for turning your lessons learned into action. Before we get into each one of the Ls, let’s start thinking broadly about your experiences with the project.
  3. Set a timer for 10 mins.
  4. Depending on the group, ask everyone to think back on their last project/quarter/month/week and try to remember the highs and lows. What situations were memorable? What issues did you face? What did you like? What new things did you try? This is a complete brain dump of any and all thoughts and feelings about the project. This is your time to vent – be candid and don’t hold back. Write down one thought per post-it.
  5. Designate a wall or surface for the group’s ideas.
  6. Draw out a table on the wall and label each of the four columns with LOVED, LACKED, LONGED FOR, and LEARNED.
  7. Explain to the group that they will now be categorizing their thoughts into each of these columns:

    LOVED: anything they loved and want to continue
    LACKED: anything that fell short or was missing
    LONGED FOR: anything they wanted but didn’t get
    LEARNED: anything new they tried and the lessons they learned

  8. Set timer for 5 mins.
  9. They will have more time to group their thoughts based on these categories, and to add any more that come up.
  10. Ask all participants to step up to the wall and post their ideas under each corresponding category.
  11. Final 5 mins. Collect all results, take a step back, and discuss. What can we do with this information? Decide what to change, what to keep on keeping on, and what to add. Add a 5th column titled ACTIONS and outline plans to remove LACKED items, add LONGED FOR items, amplify LOVED items and share LEARNED items over the next 3 months.

The Takeaway:

Do you find yourself constantly falling into the same habits, or stuck on autopilot? When was the last time you took a hard look at how you and your team complete tasks and work as a group? Have you asked yourselves, “how can we switch up our thinking, break out of the routine, and quickly identify changes that can make the most impact for future projects?”


As we go through our daily grinds, we tend to fall into the same habits and processes. We turn our brains onto “default mode” and check off boxes on our to-do lists without thinking about the experience of it all. Taking a step back to reassess what worked, what didn’t, and what can be newly implemented is the key to constant improvement (and your own happiness).


The trick is to do it quickly and act fast. In just 20 minutes, this retrospective technique aims to identify key highlights and pain points for any group that has recently completed a project. The insights gained can help you to change up your thinking, make drastic improvements, shed the processes that don’t serve you, and work better as a team.

Need help facilitating your 4L Retrospective?

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