Recap: 4Ds for HOP and Learning Teams


Recap of our discussion with Brent Sutton, Jeffery Lyth, Brent Robinson, Josh Bryant discuss their book 4Ds for HOP and Learning Teams: A practical how-to guide to facilitate learning from everyday work, critical and dynamic risks with the 4Ds.

Every month, members of the Safeopedia community come together for an online member's book club to discuss important workplace health and safety topics, share their insights and thoughts, and support each other.

In our most recent session, we invited our members and authors Brent Sutton, Jeffery Lyth, Brent Robinson, Josh Bryant to discuss their book "4Ds for HOP and Learning Teams: A practical how-to guide to facilitate learning from everyday work, critical and dynamic risks with the 4Ds".

If you missed it, here's a recap of the session.

Meet the Authors

Josh Bryant is the General Manager – People, Risk (HSE) and Sustainability at Mitchell Services

Josh is passion about learning, people, safety and risk management. With over 20 years of diverse experience in the field, he has developed a specialty in driving change and transformation in organisations, always with a genuine care for the people he works with.

Josh Bryant with family visiting a volcano!

He has worked for some of the largest global mining companies in Australia and have extensive experience in both operational and strategic environments. As a leader with a strong vision, Josh has demonstrated a collaborative, transformational leadership style and a high level of determination and resilience.



Jeffery Lyth is the

Jeff began his safety career nearly 30 years ago, and has become recognized as an expert and innovator in workplace safety leadership.

Throughout his career, Jeff has been involved in industry-leading innovation, such as the first Canadian use of computerized tower-crane anti-collision systems, the province-wide use of the ‘Safety Climate Tool’ survey from the Health and Safety Laboratory in the U.K., and the development of the BCCSA Silica Control Tool.

Jeffery Lyth (on right) with friend.He currently assists organizations to integrate new and emerging safety principles and to help them break through the performance plateaus associated with conventional views of health and safety and is the owner of



Brent Robinson is an Operational Excellence Advocate at Learning Teams Inc

Brent has spent the last 30 years in the manufacturing and contracting sectors and been involved in areas as diverse as baggage handling systems and robotics to sustainable building façade systems in the construction industry. Brent works with cross functional teams to develop improved systems and is an advocate for organizations learning from the people doing the work, to feed into the continuous improvement process. Brent is an operational excellence advocate and has worked across operations, sales and product development functions in New Zealand, United States and Australia.

Brent Robinson (on right) with friend.Brent lives in Melbourne, Australia and has a passion for quality and safety that has driven his belief that the convergence of the two will drive better outcomes for any organization.



Brent Sutton is the Managing Director at the Learning Teams Inc, and Podcast Host at Safety FM – The Practice of Learning Teams

Brent works in partnership with organisations in the commercial, government and education sector providing practical advice to address health and safety risks and develop strategies to drive improvements in organisational learning. Brent is well regarded as a safety coach and for taking organisations on a learning journey to understand how workers are seen as the solution, how to engage people and leverage their skills so that worker participation becomes a new way of running an organisation, where everybody benefits without replacing your existing health and safety system.

Brent Sutton (second to right) and friends.Brent is the project architect for New Zealand's most significant Court Ordered Project Order granted under the Health and Safety At Work Act, which is to develop, train and implement a Learning Teams framework for the maritime industry.



Meet the Book

The book "4Ds for HOP and Learning Teams: A practical how-to guide to facilitate learning from everyday work, critical and dynamic risks with the 4Ds", focuses on the 4Ds approach, which stands for "dumb, dangerous, difficult, and different." The authors use these concepts to facilitate learning teams. The 4Ds are used to inquire into the experiences and perspectives of frontline workers, enabling a deeper understanding of their work environment and potential risks. The authors emphasize the importance of asking better questions and actively listening to workers to gain insights and create a culture of trust and open communication.

The book also discusses the challenges in breaking down hierarchical barriers and overcoming the fear and reluctance of workers to speak up due to past stigmas and biases. How there is the need for genuine interest and action from leadership to demonstrate that worker input is valued and acted upon. The book aims to help organizations create a more open and learning-oriented culture that encourages workers to share their experiences and ideas freely.

The Big Picture: Our Discussion Topics

In our conversation today, the discussion really dove into a focused on the "Four D's" framework as members were interested in gathering more insights on why there were chosen and what they really involved. The 4Ds involves four aspects: "Dumb," "Dangerous," "Difficult," and "Different."

Each D represents a different type of inquiry to understand workplace challenges and improve processes.

  1. Dumb: Focuses on sense-making and understanding what does and doesn't make sense to the workgroups. It involves identifying critical information gaps and areas of waste.

  2. Dangerous: Concerns risk assessment and understanding how workers perceive risk in their context. It aims to bridge the gap between the organization's risk assessments and workers' perspectives.

  3. Difficult: Explores the challenges workers face in performing tasks. It seeks to understand difficulties and obstacles that may hinder peak performance and safety.

  4. Different: Addresses change and explores how workers navigate through their tasks and daily work. It involves identifying weak signals that may indicate potential issues or areas for improvement.

The discussion also touches on using the term "sense-making" versus "making sense" and how the use of certain language can be perceived as academic or too theoretical by some. The participants also talk about the power of engaging frontline workers in conversations and how it leads to valuable insights and improvements in various aspects of the organization.

Overall, the Four D's framework provides a structured approach to gain insights from frontline workers, promote a culture of continuous improvement, and enhance safety and performance in the workplace.

At the end of our discussion, asked our members to Brent, Jeff, Josh and Brent to share their key takeaways.

They shared:

  1. Practical Approach: The book is written with a practical mindset and is aimed at unlocking value in businesses. It provides valuable insights for frontline supervisors up to board-level executives by Josh.

  2. Sustainable Change: Sustainable change occurs in small increments rather than large, abrupt shifts. The "Trojan Mouse" strategy helps create lasting change by focusing on small, incremental improvements by Brent Sutton.

  3. Whole-Business Improvement: Starting with safety in mind can lead to improvements across the entire business. The approach can drive positive changes and align with the vision of continuous improvement advocated by Deming by Brett Robinson

  4. Valuing our People, inquire about the System: When inquiring about what is "dumb" or challenging in the workplace, it's essential to focus on the system rather than being critical of individuals. The goal is to value and respect the intelligence and insights of the workforce and understand the system's areas for improvement by Jeff.

The speakers also express gratitude to the audience for their participation, as their input contributes to valuable discussions and insights.

The Nitty Gritty: Contributions from Our Community Members

Meet the Author sessions are collaborative discussions. While our guest author and community co-host Gary Wong get the conversation going, our community members always share their insights, experiences, and perspectives.

Here are some of their contributions.

Rosa Carrillo asked the question "What would you tell yourself that you know now that you didn't know then"?

Tanya Hewitt shared On language, when you accept the use of the word dumb, does this then start a slippery slope to words like stupid, imbecilic etc. perhaps degrading to less helpful profanity that then overtakes the conversation?

Andy Whitley shared thought about evolution and not Revolution, the aggregation of marginal gains … these are concepts the 'trojan mouse' analogy (for me) aligns with but importantly simplifies so it just makes sense for as many people as possible. High five that!

Shrikar Patel shared remember safety is not Priority, It should be part of value chain to start with.

Watch the Session

Join Us for the Next One

On Sept XX, 2023, we will be welcoming another great Author!

In our upcoming session we will have author share their book ….

Click here to register and join the conversation!

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