NZ's Safety II explorer: Jono Brent
Jono Brent, CEO, Connetics
Life after 22 February 2011
The immediate aftermath of the Canterbury earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 saw Connetics, which builds and maintains overhead and underground lines, switch into a people-led organisation. “People had to be the solution, there was no process or system about how to respond. We had people working up to 16-hour days to restore essential services, yet they felt valued because they were at the heart of the decision-making.”
In that post-earthquake period Connetics also recorded its safest-ever period, despite the long hours and extremely challenging conditions. Jono recalls, “even years afterwards we had people saying ‘can’t we go back to how we worked just after the earthquake?’”
It was a few years later when Jono was introduced to the concept of Safety II, or Safety Differently and started an embedded discovery to find out what it was really like to work for Connetics, and identify gaps between ‘work as imagined’ and ‘work as done’. “It was a watershed moment. There were things we were doing as an organisation which were not serving our people.”
That was the start of Connetics Differently, which has included ‘explorations’ and micro-experiments, such as bold decisions to focus on measuring the ‘presence of health and safety’ – rather than just traditional lag indicators. Work Improvement teams were set up and given a licence to make ‘micro-improvements’ across the business.
Jono's tips for success with Safety Differently
- Truly understand and believe that people are the solution
- Be the enabler, instead of the one in control
- Be transparent, curious and entirely open to new ideas
- You’re not alone – if you’re fearful of taking the first step, many others are too.
Jono is clear: Safety II is not an initiative. “It’s about work, not just safety. It’s about thinking about people all the time, setting your people up for success.”