Author Archives: Barb Phillips

Top 3 Worst Practices in Root Cause Analysis Interviewing

Posted: February 8th, 2016 in Root Cause Analysis Tips
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Allow interviewees to set the pace of the interview by encouraging them to tell the story of what happened during the incident instead of waiting for you to ask a “yes” or “no” answer.

Investigative interviewing is challenging because most investigators have learned how to do it on the job and do not have formal training. However, it is a very important component of evidence collection so it’s essential to know what practices to avoid.  Here are the top three worst practices in root cause analysis interviewing.

1. Not using a variety of open-ended questions. Asking too many closed-ended questions (questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “no”) will get you just that — a “yes” or “no.” Not only that, but closed-ended questions tend to be leading. Open-ended questions will help the interviewee retrieve from memory and maybe even provide information you did not know to ask. That’s not to say you should never use closed-ended questions.  Use your closed ended questions judiciously to verify something the interviewee has said or to tie up loose ends after the interviewee finishes his or her narrative.

2. Treat the interviewee with respect. When you seem uninterested in what the interviewee has to say, (i.e., you look at your phone/computer, take non-essential calls and allow other people to interrupt, sigh/show you are impatient/bored with your body language), he or she will try to make answers as brief as possible.  Interviewees will follow your lead but you really want them to set the pace – allowing them space to retrieve from memory and tell their stories as they remember them.  Set aside a time you will not be interrupted and break the ice at the beginning of the interview with a friendly tone and body language.

3. Don’t interrupt!  This goes along with #2 above but it also deserves it’s own spot because it is so important.  Even if you don’t do anything else right in the interview, don’t interrupt the interviewee while he or she is telling the story from memory. It will cause them to lose a train of thought and cause you to lose valuable information to get to the root cause.  You’ll also give out a “I already know what happened” attitude.  You don’t know the root cause until the investigation is complete, (and I hope you are nodding your head affirmatively).

What can you share about good interviewing practices?  Please leave your comments below.

And plan to attend the 2016 Global TapRooT® Summit, August 1-5, 2016 in San Antonio, Texas, where I will be teaching the 2-day Interviewing & Investigation Basics course as well as the best practice sessions, “15 Questions – Interview Topics” and “Interviewing Behaviors & Body Language” during Summit week.

Remembering an Accident: Chicago Crib Disaster

Posted: January 20th, 2016 in Accidents

On January 20, 1909, the temporary crib that was used in the construction of the Southwest Land and Lake Tunnel System caught fire around eight 0’clock in the morning. Unfortunately the structure was constructed out of wood, so once the fire started it spread rapidly. The cause of the fire is still unknown.

The men that where stuck on the structure tried to save themselves by jumping off the crib and floating on the ice while they waited for the rescue boats to fight their way through to the survivors. The exact number of victims couldn’t be calculated, because some of the workers where temporary laborers that the company never documented. It is believed that at least 70 men lost their lives in this terrible disaster.

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To read more about this accident click on the link below.

http://worldhistoryproject.org/1909/1/20/chicago-crib-disaster

Find and fix root causes at your facility before disaster strikes.  Our 2-day root cause analysis course is offered globally and includes all of the essential tools necessary to successfully complete an investigation.

Learn more here:  http://www.taproot.com/courses#2-day-incident

Don’t Let “Jerks” Ruin Your Day

Posted: January 19th, 2016 in Career Development, Career Development Tips

Jerks are “de-energizers” at work. What is the best way to keep them from draining your energy? Here are some quick tips from Business Insider!

Investigative Interviewing: How to Decrease the Chance of an Inconsistent Statement

Posted: December 31st, 2015 in Root Cause Analysis Tips

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Not every inconsistent statement is meant to deceive.

 

A new investigator may believe that if an interviewee is telling the truth, he will be consistent in his recollection of an event every single time. However, not every inconsistent statement made by an interviewee is made to intentionally deceive.

In fact, most interviewees want to be helpful. Further, an inconsistent statement may be as accurate or even more accurate than consistent claims. That is, an account repeated three times with perfect consistency may be more of a red flag to dig deeper.

The two most important things to think about when evaluating inconsistencies are the passage of time between the incident and its recollection, and the significance of the event to the interviewee. Passage of time makes memory a bit foggy, and items stored in memory that become foggy the quickest are things that we don’t deem significant, like what we ate for lunch last Wednesday.

There are three ways to decrease the possibility of innocent inconsistent statements during the interviewing process.

  1. Encourage the interviewee to report events that come to mind that are not related or are trivial. In this way, you discourage an interviewee trying to please you by forcing the pieces to fit. They do not know about all the evidence that has been collected, and may believe that something is not related when it truly is.
  2. Tell the interviewee, explicitly, not to try to make-up anything he or she is unsure of simply to prove an answer. If they don’t know, simply request they say, “I don’t know.” This will help them relax.
  3. Do not give feedback after any statement like “good” or “right.” This will only encourage the interviewee to give more statements that you think are “good” or “right”– and may even influence them to believe that some things occurred that really didn’t.

We have plans to go over many more details on how to conduct a good interview at the 2016 Global TapRooT® Summit, August 1 – 5 in San Antonio, Texas.  Save the date and look for updates here.

Congratulations Gabby!

Posted: December 10th, 2015 in Meet Our Staff

You may or may not recognize the beautiful human behind our Facebook and Twitter posts and the one who motivates us with wisdom quotes and inspiration on the blog and so much more: Gabby Miller! Join us in congratulating her today on completion of her Bachelor’s degree at the University of Tennessee!

Gabby Rocky Top

Gabby Food

Gabby plate

Career Development: Personal Growth

Posted: December 7th, 2015 in Career Development, Career Development Tips

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Personal growth can help you make your life more enjoyable and fulfilling.  However, if your’e broke, overwight, don’t have any friends, and lack goals, where do you begin?  The key to beginning a personal growth journey is setting your priorities.  There’s a lot you can do in five years, but you can’t do a whole lot in five months.

Click here to open “7 Steps to Personal Growth.”

 

 

TapRooT® User Best Practice Tip

Posted: December 1st, 2015 in RCA Tip Videos, Summit Videos, Video Depot

Here is a root cause tip from one of our users, Sam Dillow, that can be used across industries. TapRooT® users share best practices at the Summit, and it is one of many highlights of our conference.

Thanks for the tip, Sam!

(CLICK HERE if the video is not displaying.)

Career Development: Don’t Be a Quitter!

Posted: November 30th, 2015 in Career Development, Career Development Tips

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Being successful means learning how to finish well … no matter what!

Ever notice how the beginning of anything new is full of excitement and enthusiasm, but it’s hard to keep excitement and enthusiasm going? Being successful means learning how to finish well … no matter what! It’s part strategy and part willpower. There are always a few obstacles to endure and overcome. Life can’t be all fun and games.

But don’t be a quitter! Here are 8 steps to being an achiever!

  1. Evaluate times that you quit in the past. When are you most likely to give up? What were your reasons for quitting in the past? Can you think of a strategy for getting through those times? Is there a way to avoid them altogether?
  2. Invest your time wisely. Getting caught up in too many meaningless projects won’t improve your ability to finish things. When possible, limit yourself to those things that really interest you. Life is too short for hobbies that make you want to shrug. If you’re passionate about something, you’re much more likely to get it done.
  3. Chart your progress. When you can visually see how much progress you’ve made, you’ll feel more motivated to continue. Make a chart, graph, or other visual representation of the work you’ve completed.
  4. Visualize the expected result. Constantly remind yourself how great you’ll feel when you’re done. Make note of all the benefits you’re receive.
  5. Be realistic. If you haven’t logged several thousand hours of piano practice before your 30th birthday, it’s unlikely you’ll ever reach the level of a world-class pianist. This is especially true if you’re 58 years old, have a family, and only have 30 minutes a day to practice.  However, you can still play! You can still become a better pianist!
  6. Give yourself a reasonable amount of time. You might be making good progress, but if you believed that you should’ve mastered the Russian language by now, you’ll become discouraged. It’s not easy to estimate the amount of time it will take to complete something. Do you have a history of thinking that things will take less time than they actually do? Build a fudge-factor into your estimates. After you’ve make a little progress, revisit your expectations and adjust them accordingly. If you’re enjoying yourself, who cares how long it takes? Once you’re done, the fun is over!
  7. Get better at the small things first. If you’re washing the dishes, avoid leaving that greasy, disgusting pan until morning. Fold all the clothes rather than leaving some of them for later. Clean the entire room. Pay all of the bills. Run the full 3 miles you planned to run.  Get in the habit of finishing all of the tasks in your life.
  8. Be immune to criticism. One of the reasons we stop before completing a project is to avoid criticism. Once it’s done and available for the world to judge, we can get apprehensive. Then we rationalize reasons not to complete it. The people that matter won’t be unkind. The unkind people don’t matter. There’s no way to stop the criticism, but you don’t have to allow it to bother you.

These small tips can be a great help in finishing future projects. If there’s one trait you’ll find in high-achievers, it’s the ability to get things done. Learn how to finish and change your life!

Friday Joke: Not Encouraging

Posted: November 27th, 2015 in Jokes, Medical/Healthcare

A man was seen fleeing down the hall of the hospital just before his operation.

What’s the matter?” he was asked.

He said, “I heard the nurse say, ‘It’s a very simple operation, don’t worry, I’m sure it will be all right.

She was just trying to comfort you, what’s so frightening about that?

She wasn’t talking to me. She was talking to the doctor.

Are you doing “spare time” root cause analysis?

Posted: November 19th, 2015 in Root Cause Analysis Tips

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Don’t get caught in these scenarios – make root cause analysis an integral part of your improvement program.

 Do these scenarios look familiar to you?

Here’s scenario #1:

An incident occurs.

The supervisor performs a 5-Whys analysis, or maybe just does a few interviews with a few employees out on the plant floor. The supervisor collects just enough information to fill out the company report, or to satisfy his manager because this is a task done in his spare time. Once someone or something is found to pin the cause on, the supervisor thinks of a solution, (typically an employee gets disciplined or a piece of equipment gets fixed), and the root cause analysis is complete.

The downside to doing root cause analysis in your spare time like this is you’ll probably see repeat incidents. You’ll miss root causes or not get to the root. So, instead of saving time doing the investigation in your spare time, you have created more work.  Plus, you are working within your own knowledge.  You may be very experienced, but a bias (and we all have them) can cause you to overlook important information.  Also, morale will be affected because employees do not want to live under the fear of punishment if they make a mistake. And let’s not forget when near misses and small problems aren’t solved, chances are a major incident is building on the horizon.  Don’t let your facility be the next headline!

Here’s scenario #2:

An incident occurs.

The supervisor performs a TapRooT® investigation in his or her spare time. Her company does not have a blame culture– hooray! She only had time to attend one day of a 2-day TapRooT® course, but the former supervisor showed her the basics. The supervisor uses the Root Cause Tree® as a “pick list,” (without using a Root Cause Tree® Dictionary to dig deeper – she is not even aware there is a dictionary), until one root cause and a couple of causal factors are found.  Sigh of relief. Corrective actions to the root cause are implemented.  Check! This root cause analysis is complete!

The downside to this TapRooT® “spare time” root cause analysis is similar to scenario #1 in that you will probably experience repeat incidents because you’ll miss root causes that won’t be fixed, and there was not sufficient training on the TapRooT® tools.  You may progress beyond your own knowledge in identifying root causes using the Root Cause Tree® and that’s a plus, but you may not be casting a wide enough net by using all of the tools in the TapRooT® system.  Take shortcuts and don’t use all the tools available to you, and you will lose the power of TapRooT® to effectively guide you in your root cause analysis to find and fix incidents.

Don’t be that supervisor!

To get the full benefit of TapRooT®, join us at a course to receive all of these tools and understand how to use them:

SnapChart® – a visual technique for collecting and organizing information to understand what happened.
Root Cause Tree® – a way to see beyond your current knowledge (with additional help from the Root Cause Tree® Dictionary)
Corrective Action Helper® – a tool to help you think “outside the box” to develop effective corrective actions.
Safeguard Analysis – identify and confirm causal factors

This is how you find all the root causes and fix them once and for all.  Smaller problems are also found before they turn into major disasters.  It’s a win for everyone!

Are you doing spare time root cause analysis?  There is still time to join us for a course in 2015 and make 2016 a different story.

Learn more here:
2-Day TapRooT® Incident Investigation and Root Cause Analysis Course
or
5-Day TapRooT® Advanced Root Cause Analysis Team Leader Training

What is Strategy?

Posted: November 18th, 2015 in Career Development, Career Development Tips

Time and resources are limited, and lack of strategy is a good way to run out of both before you reach a goal. In this Slideshare, Mark Sniukas defines strategy and walks us through it.

Make your Body Language Work for You

Posted: November 16th, 2015 in Career Development, Career Development Tips

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A simple way to get respect in the workplace is to make your body language work for you.  With just a few adjustments to how you communicate nonverbally, you can change another person’s perception of you in a positive way.

Here are five tips:

  1. Keep your body language open.  Even though crossing your legs or arms does not mean that you are closed, (it could mean you are simply cold or just feel comfortable sitting or standing that way), people may still think you are “protecting” yourself.  Staying open sends a message that you are confident and in charge.
  2. Take up more space. Whether you’re sitting or standing, position your body in such a way to take up a little more space. Spread your arms and legs slightly. Insecure people tend to do the opposite and attempt to appear small.  Be confident enough to claim the space around you without apologizing for it. 
  3. Mirror the other person. Mirroring is tricky, but it works!  This means you copy how the other person is sitting or standing and match that person and his or her mannerisms. Don’t match them exactly or you will seem a little creepy, but, for example, if someone shifts from closed body language to open, subtly shift your body language as well.
  4. Don’t fidget. When you fidget, you give off a message that you are uncomfortable. Shaking your foot, bouncing your leg, and tapping your fingers are distracting. Instead, be conscious about displaying relaxed, infrequent movements.
  5. Keep your head lifted.  Avoid looking at the ground. If you pause to collect your thoughts, look up instead.  Establish good eye contact with others but don’t stare to the point of making them feel awkward.  Try mentally drawing an inverted triangle around a person’s mouth and eyes, slowly scanning the points of the triangle instead of staring directly into the eyes.

If you aren’t practicing these habits they will feel unnatural at first. However, they won’t appear strange at all to others — they will notice a positive change in you but may not be able to put a finger on exactly what the change is.  Try a new technique each week and practice each day. In just a few weeks, you’ll notice that people are treating you differently.

Thank you for serving our country and protecting our freedom!

Posted: November 11th, 2015 in TapRooT® Instructor, TapRooT® Instructor Profiles

At System Improvements, we are honored to work among those who have served in the United States Armed Forces.

Mark Paradies, Officer in Admiral Rickover’s Nuclear Navy 
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Ken Reed, United States Navy, Nuclear Operator

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Chris Vallee, United States Air Force, Aircraft Mechanic

Thank you for your service!

Career Development: When Should You Provide Constructive Criticism at Work?

Posted: November 4th, 2015 in Career Development, Career Development Tips

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Constructive criticism can be appreciated and well-received with the right approach.

Constructive criticism is important to performance improvement, and the ability to provide constructive criticism effectively is a true leadership skill. This doesn’t mean we should be evaluating our co-workers all the time so we can give them our opinions on how they can do things better, but there are clues as to when feedback is needed and may be appreciated.

If you’ve always wondered whether the door is open or closed to provide feedback, see if it the situation falls into one of these scenarios:

Someone has asked you for your opinion.

There is an ongoing problem that will not be resolved without helpful feedback.

A co-worker’s error continues to repeat itself.

A co-workers habit is affecting your job performance negatively.

All of the above are signals that the time may be right but don’t approach your co-worker just yet! Here are 5 questions to ask yourself before you provide criticism:  

1. Is my intention to be helpful?  Evaluate why you feel like you want to provide feedback.  If it is intended to improve the performance of one of your employees, proceed to the next question.  If it is intended for a peer, there are many things you want to say that are true, but not helpful.  Unless you feel that your feedback will help them reach a goal more easily, improve the way they perform a task to their benefit, or help them understand how their performance is negatively affecting you, keep it to yourself.  

2. Am I the best person to provide the feedback? Consider your history with the other person. They may be more receptive if someone else told them.  Even so, some people do not like criticism of any kind. Be prepared for a negative response.

3. Can I be specific?  It doesn’t help to say, “Wow, you dropped the ball here.”  Specific feedback is constructive feedback.  Are you prepared to discuss where you feel the performance can be improved, and how they can accomplish that?  Otherwise, it’s just criticism.  For example, telling someone they’re lazy is received as an insult. Telling them they are not getting you the data you need to prepare your reports on time addresses the behavior.

4. Am I being sensitive in my approach?   It’s better to give constructive feedback in private.  Be sensitive to minimizing embarrassment the other person may feel. Focus on describing the behavior instead of judging it as good or bad.  Also know when to stop. Pay attention to their reaction.  You can revisit the issue later if they look uncomfortable.

5. Are my emotions under control? If someone dropped the ball or made a mistake, you might have a good reason to feel upset, but your criticism will have a tone of accusation and that will make the other person defensive. Stay calm and give the feedback in a fair and balanced way. Watch your body language.  Avoid inferences – there is something about the person’s behavior that you saw or heard that bothers you but your interpretation of it may be incorrect.  Give the other person a chance to tell you what his or her behavior means.

If you can answer yes to the questions above then you are ready to approach someone with your constructive criticism.  The best way to approach someone is stating your intent so it’s clear from the start.  Some non-threatening lead-ins are:

I have some ideas about  …

I’m concerned about …

Can I share an observation …

Do you have a minute to talk about …

Constructive feedback can be a gift to someone when delivered properly.  Don’t be reluctant to help someone be the best that they can be.  You may be giving them the advice that changes their lives!

Career Development: 5 Ways to Become Less Critical

Posted: October 30th, 2015 in Career Development, Career Development Tips

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It’s arrogant and delusional to believe that your way is the right way for everyone.

Do you accept people who don’t think and act the way you do, or do you simply tolerate them?  Occasionally we all fall trap to expecting others to behave in certain ways … our ways.  Life, however, is a lot more enjoyable when we can accept others as they are.

Here are five ways to become less critical of others.

1. Watch your thoughts. Everything has a beginning and critical judgments begin with critical thoughts. Noticing them is your cue to change your thinking. Remind yourself to be more accepting.

2. Pause and take a breath. Do you ever wish you could take back something you said?  When you pause, you interrupt your thought pattern and give yourself a chance to think before you say something you might regret.

3. Believe that most people do the best they can with what they know. That’s not to say that everyone is living up to his or her potential. Everyone has a unique past, tragedies, upbringing, health issues, and way of viewing the world. Faced with the same experiences, you can’t be certain you would do any better.

4. Respect the freedom of others. No one elected you to decide how others should live their lives. It’s arrogant and delusional to believe that your way is the right way for everyone. You have the option to live your life the way you choose. Provide the same freedom to others.

5. Release expectation. Having expectations is a form of trying to control others. Become more flexible. When you have expectations, they’re sure to be violated. There’s only one way you can feel at that point: upset.  Let go of your expectations and accept the outcome without judgment.

Remember, if you’re hard on others, you’re probably also hard on yourself. Your self-esteem and happiness suffer. This is a great opportunity to be patient and understanding with yourself as well, and become a happier person!

Sign up to receive tips like these in your inbox every Tuesday. Email Barb at editor@taproot.com and ask her to subscribe you to the TapRooT® Friends & Experts eNewsletter – a great resource for refreshing your TapRooT® skills and career development.

 

Three Indicators that Root Cause Analysis is not Important to your Business

Posted: October 21st, 2015 in Root Cause Analysis Tips

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How important is root cause analysis to your business? Before you answer that, think about your completed investigations to find out if your efforts are working. Here are three indicators that root cause analysis (RCA) is not important to your business.

  1. The RCA stops short. There are many reasons a RCA will stop short of finding the real root causes. Political expediency, lack of valuable training, and failure to base the RCA on facts and evidence are high on the list among them. When the investigation stops after the first root cause is found, the problem will occur again because other paths to the problem were not identified and corrected.  Does your RCA system offer a way to examine a complete set of events and conditions so you never stop short?  Does it offer a way to document all of this efficiently?
  2. Weak corrective actions. Are you finding solutions that fix the problem or are you simply treating a symptom of the problem? It’s easy to tell. If the incident happens again after corrective actions were implemented, your corrective actions are only treating symptoms. Your system may not be offering you well-developed definitions or giving you the questions to ask so that you are not forced to rely on your own opinions and knowledge for fixes. Your system of root cause analysis is wasting your time.  A good RCA system clearly guides you to define the problem, measure and analyze it, and develop effective corrective actions.
  3. Lessons not learned. Is your organization learning from past incidents? Remembering what has occurred and how it was fixed will help your organization stay proactive. A focused set of root causes and effective corrective actions are important, but don’t forget the lesson.  A solid RCA system will help you identify generic causes. When you correct a generic cause, you’ll prevent problems from occurring across your organization.  Less work for you, more success for your business!

If you’ve noticed that your facility is running into one or more of the problems above, it’s time to consider training to make RCA more important to your business. RCA is mission critical knowledge worth the investment in training. Is the cheap answer working for you? Remember, you get what you pay for.

There is still time to grab a seat in our 2-Day TapRooT® Incident Investigation & Root Cause Analysis courses where you will learn ALL of the essentials to conduct a root cause analysis in just two days.  (CLICK HERE to learn more or register.)

And we have a few seats left in our 5-Day TapRooT® Advanced Root Cause Analysis & Team Leader Training courses where you will learn all of the essentials and advanced techniques PLUS receive a copy of our root cause software that will help you every step of the way.  (CLICK HERE to learn more or register.)

 

A Perspective on Failure

Posted: October 21st, 2015 in Career Development, Career Development Tips

 

Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

We’ve all been told at one time or another to go after our dreams in life, but what if we give it a shot and fail?  Was it worth it?

Yes it is! It’s absolutely worth it to attempt a goal and fail.  Let’s take a different perspective on failure.

The phoenix must burn to emerge.

- Janet Fitch

It’s important not to give up too quickly but avoid spending too much time on an idea that just isn’t working.  Don’t attach yourself to a sinking anchor. Cut your losses and emerge.

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. 

- Winston Churchill

Before you cut your losses and go, be certain the necessary time and resources were utilized. Is there any aspect of the idea or the execution that you can modify and move forward stronger? Always evaluate the reason for the failure before you give up.

The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.

- Henry Ford

Ensure that you don’t put your failures on repeat. You know the definition of insanity — doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.  Failing loses all of its value if you fail to learn from it.

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. 

- Thomas A. Edison

When it’s time to accept failure, at least take the most from it.  List your lessons learned – all 10,000 of them if necessary. From these failures, write in your notebook your discoveries and new ideas.  Mine your failures.

What is the point of being alive if you don’t at least try to do something remarkable?

– John Green

Keep a healthy perspective.  A failed attempt does not mean you are a failure as a person.  Failure is an undesired result. That’s it. It’s no indication of your intelligence, worth, or future attempts. It’s simply an idea that didn’t work out. Detach from your results and move onward.

It here is the last piece of advice on failure: Do not give up until you win!  Now take this new perspective and live out your purpose.

 

How to Self-Motivate – 10 Ideas

Posted: October 14th, 2015 in Career Development, Career Development Tips

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It’s time to get busy!

I firmly believe that the difference between a successful person and a non-successful person is the successful one did not quit when faced with an obstacle.  Success is available to everyone but getting ahead of obstacles is a practice in self-motivation.

Here are 10 ideas for self-motivation:

  1. Choose the right attitude. It’s much easier to motivate yourself when you have the right attitude. Focus on the good things in your life that fill you with gratitude.
  2. Don’t stop until it’s finished. A trail of unfinished projects can dampen anyone’s enthusiasm to start another. Avoid quitting before a task is 100% completed.
  3. Expect obstacles. The only people that don’t make mistakes are those who never do anything. The more mistakes you make, the more you’ll learn.
  4. Stay in the present moment. If you’re adding unnecessary drama to a situation and worrying about the future (or beating yourself up over the past), it’s challenging to get anything accomplished right now. Focus on your breathing for a few minutes if your mind is running wild.
  5. Focus on the result. You’ll find it difficult to get started if you sit around and think about all the work that needs to be done. Take a tip from Stephen Covey, “Begin with the end in mind.”  Focus on the result and you’ll feel much more motivated.
  6. Beat the clock. Decide how long a task should take and see if you’re right. Set a timer and see if you can beat the clock. Most of the time, it’s just a matter of getting started. You may end up working way past the timer!
  7. Read inspirational quotes. This is one of my favorites because it works for a quick pick-me-up. Reading inspirational quotes by those who have achieved great success can be very motivating.
  8. Consider the cost. What is the price of failing to follow through? Make a list of the negatives. Some of us are more driven by pain then we are by reward.
  9. Get some exercise. If you’re felling stuck, go for a brisk walk or a short run. Taking a short break every 60 minutes is not a waste of time, it has been shown to increase productivity.
  10. Measure your progress. Big goals or projects can takes years to complete. Measuring your progress along the way is a great way to keep your spirits high. What’s your five-year plan? Slow and steady wins the race!

What do you want to do with the rest of your life? It’s time to get busy!

5 Steps to Setting Clear Goals You Can Achieve

Posted: September 30th, 2015 in Career Development, Career Development Tips

 

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Don’t wait for “someday” to pursue your goals!

How are those goals coming along that you set in January of this year?

I like goals. Without them, I feel we lack passion, purpose, or drive; however, when goals are too vague, it’s much more difficult than if we’d properly prepared in the first place.

Planning Goals

The planning phase is the most important stage when it comes to achieving your goals. Planning might come easy or hard for you, but one thing’s for sure, without planning you won’t get there.

While it’s important to set up your own system that works for you, there are some simple goal setting strategies you can use to make your planning easier.

Consider the following tips for finding clarity in your goals:

1. Decide what you really want. Seems intuitive but many people skip this step and instead pursue goals that sound good, not goals that line up with what he or she really wants to achieve in life. Whether your goal is lofty or little, decide exactly what it is that you want. If you want money, how much? If you want to lose weight, how many pounds? If you want success, how do you describe your vision of success? Don’t be afraid to take your time to figure out what you want. At some point you’ll need to eventually sift through your thoughts and take action, but make sure you’re acting on what’s most important to you and not someone else.

2. Be specific. Be very detailed as you develop every part of your goal. Instead of a goal like “I want to be promoted to the next level at work,” consider a goal like “I want to perform exceptionally well now so I can be promoted to the next level and I will do this by [add specific action steps here].” Just being “better” at work is too vague. There are too many options and avenues to take that your mind can’t focus on any one route to your goal.

3. Write it down. Write down your ideas and decisions. It doesn’t matter if you use pencil and paper, a computer, or even a cell phone. What’s important is the fact that you can keep track of a large amount of specific information instead of trying to remember everything. After all, goals only seem real when you see them clearly before you.

4. Break down your goal into increments. If you have a lofty goal, it’ll become manageable if you break it down into smaller pieces. Smaller pieces will make your goal seem less complex. Plus, it’ll be easier for you to achieve your goal if everything is set out for you as mini-goals, instead of just one huge feat.

5. Repeat the process. Once you’ve found a good system, it’s time to repeat the process. Clarify your other goals that you’d like to achieve. For example, if you’d like to “spend more time with the family,” which is too vague, make a list of specific family activities you’d like to do together, and then make more lists that detail how you can make those goals a reality.

Don’t Wait For “Someday”

Some of the reasons why people tend to keep their goals vague is that they’re actually afraid of achieving them. It’s true!

After all, it’s a whole lot easier to put off your goals and do nothing, than to take action to achieve it. But what good is a goal that merely resides on paper?

Once you’ve decided on a clear goal, it’s time to take swift action to make it a reality. Don’t wait for someday to achieve your goals. There’s no time like the present… so get moving and end this year on a high note!

Stop Making Excuses: Do More!

Posted: September 23rd, 2015 in Career Development, Career Development Tips

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If you’re dragging into work every day, watching the clock, not getting much done and binging on Netflix every weekend — it’s time to seek some motivation!

We all have a limited number of days in our lives and unlimited opportunities.  There are so many more fulfilling things you could be doing: “participate, help, practice, be kind” in the wise words of William Arthur Ward (above).

You may already know that motivation is one of the keys that determine success or failure. However, just knowing doesn’t make it any easier to gain motivation. If you feel that you’re having trouble properly motivating yourself, it’s time for you to act. Not tomorrow … but today.

Finding your motivation is something personal. The best way to find motivation is to explore your options and discover something that works for you.

Consider the following ways to motivate yourself today:

1. Avoid just going through the motions. One reason you may find it difficult to perform everyday tasks is that you get bored. Of course you’re going to try to avoid something that you find tedious! You can combat this mentality by adding some depth to your thinking while you’re engaging in tasks you dislike.

  • Brainstorm ways that you can complete the task in a more efficient manner. Then you can compete with yourself to see how quickly you can complete the task in the future. The quicker you get it done, the sooner you can move on to bigger and better things!

2. Get spiritual. Don’t be afraid to get in touch with your spiritual side. Many people find it highly motivating! When you discover some answers to life’s tough questions, it brings you clarity, and you may be more likely to work harder to achieve your desires.

3. Set a goal. You might lack motivation because you don’t have a goal. If you aren’t even sure what you’re working towards, you’ll have difficulty finding motivation.  But don’t just set a goal write it down.  And don’t just write it down, put it in a place you’ll see it every day!

  • If you have a large goal, break up the goal into a series of small, achievable tasks and set each task as a separate goal. This helps you maintain motivation because you’re constantly achieving your goals. You can see the results of your hard work!

4. Hold yourself accountable. In order to ensure that you don’t stray from your chosen path, evaluate your progress every week or even every day. Determine how you can do better the next week.

  • If you find that it’s difficult to keep yourself accountable, don’t be afraid to ask for help. You may enjoy having others check up on you to make sure you stay on task.

5. Think positive thoughts. Negative thinking and lack of motivation go hand in hand. You can increase your motivation by noticing when you are thinking thoughts that are not productive and releasing them.

  • When you catch yourself feeling down, make an extra effort to write three things that you are grateful for. If you take the time to look hard enough, you’ll find way more than three!

6. Make a change. If you think you’ve tried everything and you still can’t get motivated, perhaps you should consider a life change. Maybe there’s a reason why you’re feeling this way.

  • If you don’t feel motivated to work toward your major life goals, consider some alternatives that may be more in line with your true desires.
  • If you’re having trouble finding motivation for everyday chores, see if you can find a way to hire some help.

Always keep in mind that “the time is now.” Put procrastination into your past and you’ll feel happy and accomplished at the end of the day, instead of stressed out or regretful.

When you’re motivated, life is more fulfilling. Use these strategies to wake up your motivation and enjoy the difference!

_____________________________

Sometimes the answer to lack of motivation is learning something new!  We offer opportunities to increase your job skill toolbox at System Improvements/TapRooT®.  Learn more here.

Improve Your Investigations with this Free Tool

Posted: September 16th, 2015 in RCA Tip Videos, Root Cause Analysis Tips, Summit Videos, Video Depot

Jack Frost discusses an idea to improve investigations he learned during Mark Paradies’ best practice session at the 2015 Global TapRooT® Summit.
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DOWNLOAD the free tool he refers to HERE.

And make plans to join us at the next Global TapRooT® Summit, August 1 – 5, 2015 in San Antonio, Texas!

Live Your Core Values: 3 Steps

Posted: September 16th, 2015 in Career Development, Career Development Tips

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Have you ever said:

I don’t have enough time to do all the things I want to do.

I feel uninspired in my career.

I’m not getting what I need from my relationships.

Have you ever wondered why, in spite of good intentions, things just never seem to work out?

I have some good news for you today. It’s not because of bad luck. It’s not because you’re too young or too old or too out of shape or too poor. And stop beating yourself up for lack of motivation.

These problems all relate to one reason: losing focus on your core values.

We don’t have time for all the things we want to do is because we don’t make important things that align with our core values a priority over all of the other things that distract us.

We feel uninspired in our careers because we are not choosing something that makes us feel excited to get up in the morning, and that something always aligns with our core values.

We don’t get what we need from our relationships because we lean too heavily on others who do not support or share our core values.

Core values have a huge impact on lives because they give us purpose and direction. One of the most popular Career Development posts on the Root Cause Analysis Blog is “5 Easy Steps to Determining and Living Your Core Values.” It is a simple exercise that reveals to us that core values are actionable items – that everything we do are either aligned with them or they are not. Determine your core values here:

http://www.taproot.com/archives/33161

“What you seek is seeking you.” ~ Rumi

So after you determine your core values, what do you do with them? How do core values help you live the life you’ve always felt you are meant to live?

Where it typically breaks down is when we don’t make the effort to align these values with our day-to-day lives.

Here are 3 important action items to implement once you decide to build your life on your core values. When you make that intention, getting what you want from life will feel like less of a struggle, “luck” will seem to be in your favor, and motivation will come with ease.

1. Review your core values frequently. Keep them in notes on your iPhone, on a Post-It on your bathroom mirror or any place you look often. It’s important to keep them in front of you daily so you remember what they are. Fully understanding what they are and writing them down is wonderful, but if you do not review them daily, or at least weekly, you will find yourself slowly sailing away from all of the things you hold dear, and it will take a crisis to turn that ship around.

2. Don’t make a major decision without examining them. Buying a house? Changing careers? Going back to school? Getting married? Buying a car? We allow other people and things to influence our decisions all the time when we really should be true to ourselves and align every big decision with our core values. For example, if one of your core values is to “live in freedom,” you will not want to purchase so many items on credit that you are living in bondage to debt.

3. Take inventory of daily small decisions and determine if they fit with your core values. One easy way to stay on track is to mentally review the small decisions you make each day before falling asleep. Keeping a journal is helpful as well. When your decisions don’t line up with your core values, you can get yourself back on track before venturing too far away from yourself. For example, if one of your core values is to “act with mindfulness” you may note that you were served a wonderful meal that day but was so distracted you really didn’t taste the food, or that a friend was sharing a story about her vacation and you were only half listening.
Living our core values is essential to living out our purpose in life and finding true meaning. There is no greater gift we can give to the world or receive for ourselves than to honor our core values, and live the life we are meant to live fully and with passion. Every home, workplace and city is an exciting place to be when it is full of those passionate about life.

We would like to hear about your core values, how they’ve been tested, and how they guide you through challenging times.

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