4L retrospective, A better way for team driven retrospective.

August 31, 2022
Retrospective is a much popular tool geared towards dealing with past activities, progress and situations for our software teams, We do use it extensively here at gurzu. In software teams that actually do retrospective, weather you are following scrum or XP( which happens to be my favourite till date ). There are still many ways and many tools that they use for retro.
The above template is what most of the software teams use when starting with the retrospective.
Most simple of them might be light be just listing out what worked and what could have been better.

Some software teams use 3 columns to start / stop and continue on what the team needs to start doing, stop doing and keep doing respectively.

All these are well known and simple retro tools, There are several available online as well. 
However, I noticed problems with the way these were being conducted or perhaps drawbacks with these setups itself. 
I recently was injected to help out a friend who recently transitioned to Product owner role and Gurzu . The first thing I noticed was the team were not being able to express themselves about things they were liking , things in team that they were not liking etc .  
I talked to her about the problems with retrospective among other casual stuff that we talked about the team.  I also did a survey with the team members on the problems specific to retrospective that they were doing , Here are few things I found about what she thought about retrospectives she was using. 
  • The team was using Start , Stop Continue pattern. 
  •  Team members not engaged enough to open up about their problems and just put on vague descriptions and excuses. 
  •  Very hard to bring out problems they faced. 
  •  Only problems being highlighted.
  •  Very less interaction took place and action items were not coming out enthusiastically. 
I decided to try out 4L retrospective here. You can learn more about this technique here
 We categorized the board into 4 columns with Loved, Loathed, Longed and Learned. We ran 4L with sticky pads in every members hand, and alloted 2 minutes to dump down everything they could think about. Then we let the team read out tickets that were on each column.
After few days I did a survey and here are some advantages that the team found. 
  • 100% of the survey participants found that the 4L to be more effective. 
  • Each member of team felt like they were given chance to keep their views. 
  • Communicating between team members were more effective. 
  • No neutral or silence in retrospective. 
  • Personal growth of each team member was noticed and emphasized. 
  • Was quicker and cleaner.
  • More interactive and fun, takes shorter time and cleare and easier points . 
  • Loved the learned section.
  • Was learning oriented. 
  • 100% of survey participants said they would recomment to other teams in the future. 

After Implementing 4L, Product owner believes the team to be more self motivated and more effective.