Using the 1-2-4-All Technique in Sprint Retrospectives

Ruth Hadari
Ruth Hadari
Agile Advocate, Engineering Ops Expert
Posted on
Nov 24, 2022
Updated on
Nov 27, 2022
Table of Content

Many teams use the 1-2-4-all technique during their Sprint retrospectives. This technique is a great way to get everyone involved and to generate ideas for improving the team's process. In this blog post, we'll discuss what the 1-2-4-all technique is and provide some tips for using it effectively. 

What is the 1-2-4-All technique?

The 1-2-4-all technique is a structured way to generate ideas and reach a consensus. It can be used in large and small groups and is especially well-suited for groups that are new to each other or have difficulty generating ideas. 

The first step is for everyone to take a minute to jot down their thoughts on the question. Next, the group is divided into pairs, and they generate ideas based on their personal experiences. This stage facilitates the sharing and feeding of ideas. 

The pairs are then divided into four small groups to discuss the similarities and differences between the ideas generated by the pairs. This stage aims to share, filter duplicates, and feed the thought process by strengthening agreements and discussing any divergent points of view

Finally, the foursomes convene, and the facilitator asks them to share the main idea that has emerged from their discussions. By following this simple technique, groups can quickly generate a wealth of ideas and reach a consensus on a course of action.

Principles to Ensure the Success of this Technique

The 7 principles listed below are essential for ensuring a successful workshop. 

1. First and foremost, it is important to involve everyone in the process and allow them to contribute their ideas. 

2. Second, the facilitator must genuinely value people and local solutions. This means creating an environment where people feel safe to experiment and take risks. 

3. Third, it is crucial to encourage people to believe in change. This can be done by sharing stories of successful change initiatives and highlighting our individual power to make a difference. 

4. Participants must learn from each other’s mistakes. This means debriefing after each workshop session and using feedback to improve future sessions. 

5. It is important to experiment with self-discovery. This means trying new things and pushing members of the team outside their comfort zones. 

6. Increase team members' sense of freedom and empowerment. This can be done by setting personal goals for the workshop and permitting everyone to explore new ideas. 

7. Begin with a clear goal in mind. The workshop's goal should be something that everyone can agree on, and that will focus the group's energy. 

By following these principles, facilitators can create a truly empowering workshop for all participants.

What Are the Benefits of Using the 1-2-4-All Technique?

  • This technique helps to engage introverts and shy people who might not speak up in a large group, and forces everyone to think on their feet and come up with new ideas and build a sense of Psychological Safety for them.
  • The 1-2-4-All technique is a variation of brainstorming that helps ensure everyone gets a chance to contribute.
  • Ideas and suggestions generated directly by group members can be approved more quickly and easily by the group, speeding up future implementation.
  • Following the 1-2-4 All steps during the Daily Scrum meeting helps the team define a plan for the upcoming hours.

How Do You Use the 1-2-4-All Technique?

The 1-2-4-All technique is a great way to get a group of people to generate ideas and reach a consensus. This technique can be used in various settings, from the classroom to the boardroom. Here's how it works: 

  1. Everyone takes some time alone to jot down their thoughts on the question. 
  1. After that, the group is divided into pairs to generate ideas based on their personal experiences. This stage facilitates the sharing and feeding of ideas. 
  1. The pairs are then organized into small groups of four. Now is the time to consider the similarities and differences between the ideas generated by the pairs. This stage aims to share, filter duplicates, and feed the thought process by strengthening agreements and discussing any divergent points of view. 
  1. All the foursomes meet up. Each group shares its main idea, which helps to highlight the important points. This technique is a great way to get everyone's ideas and come to a consensus.
  1. Depending on the complexity of the topic, the facilitator can allot more time to each stage as necessary. However, keeping each time slot as short as possible is important to avoid disrupting the workshop. The workshop is meant to be quick and concise so that participants can leave with a better understanding of the topic.

Conclusion

The 1-2-4-All technique is a great way to get the most out of your Sprint retrospectives. By reflecting on what went well, what could be improved, and what still needs attention, you can ensure that your team is constantly moving forward.

GoRetro provides ideas to improve communications in a Scrum team and also provides solutions to improve team activities and productivity.

About the author

Ruth Hadari
Agile Advocate, Engineering Ops Expert

Highly experienced in leading multi-organizational teams, groups, in-shore as well as off-shore. The go-to person who is able to simplify the complex. An agile advocate, experienced in all common methodologies. Responsible for the entire software development lifecycle process from development, QA, DevOps, Automation to delivery including overall planning, direction, coordination, execution, implementation, control and completion. Drives execution, and communicates on status, risks, metrics, risk-mitigation and processes across R&D.

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