Workshop Exercises: Discuss

4 Ls

Identify what team members loved, loathed, learned, and longed for

Illustration of 4 Ls
Run a 4 Ls play

Also called: Liked, Lacked, Longed for, Loathed

Timing: Discovery

Prep time
5 minutes

Run time
60 minutes

Group size

Why: Foster reflection of team members' experiences leading to improvement, personal growth, and team cohesion

When: At the end of a project or during regular retrospectives

This workshop exercise is part of the Workshop Patterns printed card deck.

A collection of workshop exercises that will help you ditch dull meetings and facilitate with confidence. It will help you master the design process and have more productive time with your team. The card deck will be ready for purchase in the end of 2023 and is now undergoing rigorous testing.

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Instructions for running this play

  1. Introduce the exercise and explain its purpose and bring consensus to the definition of the four categories.
    • Loved. What did you love?
    • Loathed. What would you rather have been rid of?
    • Longed for. What did you wish you had?
    • Learned. What did you learn?
  2. Distribute sticky notes and markers.
  3. Conduct a Silent Storming exercise Timeboxed to 10 minutes, asking participants to list reflections on each of the 4 categories on separate sticky notes.
  4. Have each participant Playback their ideas and place them on the board in each of their respective categories.
  5. Discuss the results. Start by discussing the Mad category. Repeat this process for the Sad category and finally the Glad category.
  6. Brainstorm solutions. Consider using the Start / Stop / Continue format for framing the mindset and Dot Voting for prioritization.
  7. Plan Next steps. Consider using a Who / What / When to ensure clear responsibilities for moving forward.

Instructions for running this play


Consider introducing the concept of milestones to anchor the team on and their memory on key moments. In this case, creating 6 columns on a whiteboard makes sense: Milestones, LOVED, LOATHED, LONGED FOR, LEARNED, Actions

  1. Set the stage by introducing the exercise, explaining its purpose and aligning the team on the understanding of the six categories.
    • Milestones. Key events or achievements in the project
    • Loved. What did you appreciate in this phase?
    • Loathed. What elements would you have liked to eliminate?
    • Longed for. What was something you wished was part of the process?
    • Learned. What insights or knowledge did you acquire?
    • Actions. What should we do going forward?
  2. Equip everyone with sticky notes and markers for the session.
  3. Silent Storming: Initiate a quiet, individual brainstorming session, Timeboxed to 15 minutes. Ask participants to jot down their thoughts regarding each of the six categories on different sticky notes.
  4. Share and sort: Invite each participant to present their thoughts and stick them on the whiteboard under the corresponding category.
  5. Facilitate a discussion: Analyze the results starting with Milestones to anchor the team on the key moments and ensure clarity. Proceed by addressing the Loved, Loathed, and Longed for categories, with respect to each Milestone. Finally, discuss what was Learned in each phase.
  6. Problem-solving session: Encourage the team to brainstorm action items based on the earlier discussion. Frame this exercise using the Start / Stop / Continue model and adopt Dot Voting for prioritization.
  7. Chart the way forward: Formulate an action plan for future stages. Use a Who / What / When model to ensure there’s a clear understanding of roles, tasks, and timelines.

Tips to perfect this play

Master and adapt the play to fit your context and needs.

Tip: Large groups

More than 8 people? Set aside 90 minutes for groups of 8-12 and at least 2 hours for groups larger than 12.

Tip: Appropriate timeframe

If you are not running in sprints, the last quarter is a good substitute timeframe.

Tip: Give it time

Giving time to writing down thoughts allows for processing and reflection, while also providing room for more quiet team members to share their ideas.

Tip: Focus

The fewer actions you decide on, the more likely it is they will get done. Start with just one action item for each list.

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