What is the Four Aces Retrospective?

First proposed by Worklab in the Mini-Guide to Surviving Remote Meetings , the Four Aces Retrospective is a workshop format that helps Agile teams review and evaluate past performance (on a project or sprint) collaboratively. Simple to set up and easy to run, it provides a clear framework for identifying ways to improve future sprints.

During this workshop, participants are asked to share their thoughts, feelings, learnings, and ideas across 4 key areas:

How to run a Four Aces Retrospective

Step 1
The facilitator should give participants five to ten minutes to jot down ideas on sticky notes for each of the four areas above. Each sticky note should represent only one idea.

Be sure to use “polling booth mode” to ensure participants don’t inadvertently influence each other with their ideas before it’s time to share.

Step 2
Group the workshop participants into pairs (especially if there are more than 6 participants) and give them about 10 minutes to share and compare their ideas. At the end of this 10 minutes, each pair should contribute three sticky notes to each of the four quadrants above.

Step 3
Then, go around the room, letting each pair share their ideas with the entire team.

Step 4
The facilitator should give participants a few minutes to eventually share new ideas that could come up following step 3.

Tips and advice from an Agile Coach

Naya Luceau, Agile Coach and Scrum Master, provides some advice on how to takeaction on the learnings, insights, and feedback that emerge during theretrospective:

What does an action entail?