Author Archives: Barb Phillips

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


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
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

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 

Ken Reed, United States Navy, Nuclear Operator


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


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


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 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


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


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



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


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.
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

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:

“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.

How to Be a Great Teammate

Posted: September 9th, 2015 in Career Development Tips

Former NBA player, Walter Bond inspired us with his ideas at the 2015 Global TapRooT® Summit in Las Vegas. In this video, he teaches us how to change culture by becoming a great teammate.

Dramatic Cell Phone Video Shows Accident at Construction Site

Posted: September 2nd, 2015 in Accidents, Current Events

adamr2Worker starts to climb into underground vault but when popping noises are heard, the worker is pulled out by co-workers, and saved from being scalded.

Click here to view the video and read story.

Career Development Tip: The Practical Alternative to Work!

Posted: September 2nd, 2015 in Career Development, Career Development Tips

We thought you might enjoy something lighthearted today.


Calcified at 45? 4 Tips to Keep from Turning to Stone

Posted: August 26th, 2015 in Career Development, Career Development Tips

I read an interesting Q&A on recently. Someone wrote in to say that he was turning 45 and felt “stale” on his job. He wanted advice about whether or not he should leave his position of nine years and seek a new one.

Liz Ryan, a former Fortune 500 HR SVP, replied. She said he was robbing himself of opportunities by staying in his current position. I was nodding my head in agreement as I read through her answer, until my eyes hit the words, “Forty-five is an age at which many or most working people begin to calcify.”


“Many or most working people” is a pretty strong claim. I’m 53 so I had to do a quick self-assessment. Then I reminded myself that since I turned 50, I have completed training to become a certified yoga instructor and a certified professional coach. Then I wrote a book and a course; and I am currently finishing my Bachelor’s degree.

It’s not because I have great strength or brilliance either. I couldn’t touch my toes when I started yoga teacher training but I could when I finished. I hadn’t taken a college course since 1994 when I applied for my degree program but I’m consistently on the Dean’s list because I work hard at it.

I breathed a sigh of relief that I am not turning to stone. Whew!

She also said something in her answer that resonated with me, “How much longer will you keep working? If the answer is ‘Twenty-five years until I’m 70′ then the question becomes ‘what do I want to do in those twenty-five years?'”

She’s on to something there!

I’ll someday be 55, 60, 65, 70 whether I pursue new paths or not … so why not? I may write another book based on what I’m learning in my psychology program before I’m 55. I may lead a senior yoga class at age 70. My biggest concern is that I will run out of time before I run out of things I want to do.

Fifty is when it starts getting good. Life no longer revolves around shuttling kids around. I get to buy the car I want, and next weekend I’m going to a Steely Dan concert. I’m adept at using a smartphone and social media … not hard to learn. What’s not to like about being 50?

So, is age just a number?

Research like “The Characteristics Approach to the Measurement of Population Aging” points to the fact that aging is more than just a number, it’s multidimensional. One person who is 75 chronologically doesn’t necessarily act the same age as another 75-year-old. Health and cognitive function contribute so much to the ability to live fully and with purpose throughout this one wild and amazing life.

Here are the top four things we can do to avoid being calcified at age 45 and beyond:

1. Schedule an annual exam. Proactive, preventive care matters more than ever at this stage of the game. I found out I had cancer not once, but twice, through annual well-visit exams. I am an otherwise healthy person … I seldom catch a simple cold virus!
2. Eat better quality food. Eat foods that make your body feel good and you won’t get cravings or feel hungry soon after a meal. You only get one body — feed it nourishing foods. Read a “A Quick & Simple Guide to a Longer Life.”
3. Live an active lifestyle. Walk more, go bowling, play hoops with the kids/grandkids, swim … do this at least three times a week. Put yourself and your physical/mental/emotional health first. It’s not selfish … your family, your employer and everybody around you will benefit.
4. Use your brain. Read, take a class at the community college, try out for a play (all ages of characters are needed), learn a language, travel someplace new for the day, visit the local art gallery or museum … possibilities are truly endless when we step out the door.

Notice I didn’t say “leave that boring job and pursue your passion” because we’re old enough to know it’s not that easy to walk away. However, when we are proactive about wellness, live an active lifestyle and continue to learn new things, we may just stumble upon a great new career without looking for one.

Or you may bring something new and exciting to your present job because you feel better. Sometimes the job is stale because we are stale.

Are you over 45? What do you do to keep from turning to stone? Share your ideas.

Remembering an Accident: Sayano-Shushenskaya Hydro Power Plant Disaster

Posted: August 17th, 2015 in Accidents, Video

On August 17, 2009, 75 people were killed when a turbine failed at the Sayano-Shushenskaya Power Station in the southern region of the Russian Federation. The turbine that failed had been vibrating for a long time before the accident occurred. A report published in Power Magazine suggests that it was predictable and preventable. The report revealed the terror of that day:

image“Water was washing away people from the turbine gallery into the river. Some of them were later caught and rescued. Some were not. The staff later learned that the turbine gallery was not equipped with proper emergency exits. There were also some miraculous rescues. One worker was washed by the torrent of water filling the turbine gallery up into the ceiling, where he managed to grab some ventilation equipment and hold on until being rescued. Others led employees to safety using cell phones as flashlights.”

Have worst case scenarios at your facility ever kept you awake at night? View our course listing and learn how to go deeper into the causes of human error and equipment failure to find and fix the real root causes:


Get More from TapRooT®: Follow our Pages on LinkedIn

Posted: August 13th, 2015 in Career Development, Career Development Tips, Courses, Current Events, Equipment/Equifactor®, Human Performance, Investigations, Job Postings, Performance Improvement, Quality, TapRooT, Training

Do you like quick, simple tips that add value to the way you work? Do you like articles that increase your happiness?  How about a joke or something to brighten your day? Of course you do! Or you wouldn’t be reading this post.  But the real question is, do you want MORE than all of the useful information we provide on this blog?  That’s okay – we’ll allow you to be greedy!

A lot of people don’t know we have a company page on LinkedIn that also shares all those things and more.  Follow us by clicking the image below that directs to our company page, and then clicking “Follow.”


We also have a training page where we share tips about career/personal development as well as course photos and information about upcoming courses.  If you are planning to attend a TapRooT® course or want a job for candidates with root cause analysis skills, click the image below that directs to our training page and then click “Follow.”

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10 Reasons Why I Don’t Take Criticism Personally

Posted: August 12th, 2015 in Career Development, Career Development Tips

Ah feedback – how you put the wind in my sails and then abruptly leave me stranded in the middle of the ocean. The ability to sail through both positive and negative comments from others without relying too heavily on either is truly a skill mastered by the most successful people in the world.

I’ve been writing for publication for 15 years, and active on social media since its inception. I learned very quickly not rely on criticism to determine the value of my work.

I do take feedback into consideration, evaluating what’s “wrong” with the criticism, and what may be “right.” But over time, I’ve established my own personal core values, and these values are what guide my daily decisions.

I’m not claiming that positive feedback doesn’t make me smile, or that harsh feedback never makes me wince. However, when I catch myself getting too involved in feedback, I remind myself of these 10 things:

  1. Everyone has an opinion and everyone has the right to one.
  2. Feedback pushes me into a brainstorming, problem-solving frame of mind when I’m being lazy.
  3. Some people have more experience than I have.
  4. I have an opportunity to learn something.
  5. Constructive criticism can save me from a bad decision when I am open to it.
  6. If I am not receiving criticism, I must not be doing anything significant.
  7. Criticism is not always information meant to improve me, it is sometimes information I need to learn about the person who is delivering it.
  8. Resilience is a major key to success. Criticism offers a good exercise in how resilient I can be.
  9. The path to anything great is full of bumps. If I choose to trip and fall and lie there over someone’s critical feedback, it’s not that person’s fault, it’s mine.
  10. I am the author of my life story. I will not put the pen in someone else’s hand.

What do you think about critical feedback? How do you handle it?

Career Development: Capture More Joy in Life and Work by George Burk

Posted: August 5th, 2015 in Career Development, Career Development Tips


First, a definition of Joy: “emotion of great pleasure or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; elation. Delight. Exhilaration. Rapture.”

“Gurgle like a Meadow Lark.” W. P. Kinsella

All of those definitions and more are wonderful things. To have them you must first make them happen. It’s up to you (and me) to create our joy, delight and exhilaration. No material thing or person can make you joyous and truly happy. Lately, it seems that far too many people expect others to fill their hearts and minds with joy. They want their life and their work to be fun yet they do little to make them fun. They want (expect?) their our boss to acknowledge and recognize them because it makes them feel good about themselves, yet do little to recognize their boss or others.

Our universe, regardless of its size and scope is clear: what we put into our universe is what we get out of it. Happiness and joy in; happiness and joy out. When we are negative, act and talk like a victim and think we’re owed because of some perceived injustice, we get those and more out. To say it another way, GIGO: garbage in—garbage out.

Life requires, even demands, that we create our own joy, happiness, delight and exhilaration. A few suggestions (many I’ve learned on my journey) on how you can find more joy, happiness, delight and WOW in your life:

Make it a habit to spend at least five minutes each morning, before you go to sleep at night or both and think about who, what and why you feel grateful and Blessed. Gratitude and Blessings brings joy, delight and exhilaration. Count your Blessings instead of sheep. Remember those who’ve helped you on that day and in your life. Make a list. I do and what a list!! I start with God, The Trinity and work down from there It gives me a sense of peace, contentment, meaning and purpose. Before I fall asleep, I often recite, “The Lord is my Shepherd…”

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame from within us.” ~ Albert Schweitzer

Acknowledge at least one person each week and thank them for their friendship, kindness, generosity, support and love. Be specific what you share with them. Is it awkward to say “Thank you” in person? Write a note and mail it to them or call them. It wasn’t awkward for them to show their generosity, kindness, support and love to you in person. It shouldn’t be awkward for you to respond in kind. One act of kindness deserves an equal response of thanks and respect. Skip the email—too impersonal. When we share a sliver of our joy with someone else that they can feel and touch, it gives us some more joy, too. For me, there’s far more than one person to thank. To know that brings me much joy!

“Kindness is the language the blind can see and the deaf can hear.” ~ Mark Twain

Make a list of the things in your life that you love. What are they? How actively do you pursue them? On a scale of 1-10 or A-F, rate each effort. Be honest with yourself. We receive joy, excitement, exhilaration, and delight as we march towards our goals, no matter how large the BHAGs, “Big, Hairy Audacious Goals” or how small. The key: keep headed forward.

“When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.” ~ Confucius

Take a long, hard look at your career and work. Does it feel like work and is it fun and do you truly love what you do? Or when you look at yourself in the mirror in the morning, do you hear that little voice in your head that wishes you didn’t have to go to work at that place today? Liar, liar pants on fire.

“The brain is a wonderful organ; it starts working the moment you get up in the morning and doesn’t stop until you get into the office.” ~ Robert Frost

The people with who you associate are who you are and who you become. As shared with me in 1961 by Mr. Orville Merillat, founder of Merillat Woodworking in Adrian, Michigan, “A man is known by the words he uses and the company he keeps. Choose them both wisely.” His support and friendship and that of his wife Ruth were a constant source of inspiration and Blessing to me. How many people in your life truly support you? A friend in need is a friend indeed. If this suggestion creates some doubt in your mind or makes you uncomfortable, perhaps it’s time you take a good look around you. Reach out! Say thanks.

“Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.” ~ Helen Keller

Remember, the friends we select and those who select us are the family we both choose. The old adage that you sure as **** can’t choose your family but we sure can choose your friends is as tried and true today as ever. The people in your life…do they support you or tell you what they think you want to hear? There are times in life, because of location, circumstances or a friendships lack of validity, when you have to create new friendships. The more true friends you have, the more unbiased support and love you receive. Make periodic deposits into your friendship bank account and watch the ‘interest’ and ‘dividends’ grow and compound. To know you have that much support and so many friendships, gives you more joy, delight, exhilaration and Blessings.

Do you associate with people who are committed and enrolled to your development? There’s a special delight to know that those in your universal sphere see your potential and value you to give of their time, talents, efforts and resources. Those friends and mentors shouldn’t, and most often can’t, give you the answer or fix the problem for you. See enabled. You created the problem. Only you can fix it. Own it! What your friends and mentors can do is offer you suggestions via Socratic Coaching; they answer a question with a question. “A pedagogical teaching in which the teacher does not give information directly but instead asks a series of questions with the result that the student comes to the desired knowledge by answering the questions or to a deeper awareness of the limits of knowledge.”

“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” ~ Buddha

Play it forward. Give. “Pass the salt and make a difference in a person, place or thing.” Leave them, it or both a little better for your having been there. Share you ‘energy.’ Find that something that stokes your passion(s) and give of your time and talents. For me, it’s the opportunities I’ve been given to share my story of survival and to write. When I receive a hand-written note or email from someone who was the audience when I spoke or who read my book(s), my brain smiles and brings me joy. Their notes help me reflect of the many whose personal competence courage, compassion (love) and perseverance saved my life. It includes the many over the past 35 plus years who invited me to speak which helped me to continue to heal emotionally and spiritually. When we play it forward and give of our time, talents and resources, it gives our life more meaning and purpose. Give more, take less.

“The spirit in which a thing is given determines that in which the debt is acknowledged; it’s the intention not the face-value of the gift, that’s weighed.” ~ Seneca in Letters to Lucilius

Live your life with Character. Don’t be a Character. It’s the right and ethical thing to do. When we focus more on what is right with us, our relationships and our work, we feel better about ourselves. We’re more exhilarated and joyous and that drives us to build even more momentum…to do more right and ethical things. Our Character is our umbrella for life.

“Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

Either you live your life with Character and use it automatically and instinctively, or you don’t. It must be weaved into your deepest psyche. Character, ethical thinking and decision making shouldn’t be conveniently espoused to garner support and/or make a political point. There’s far too much of that today in our ‘leaders,’ politicians and society.

Don’t be fearful. Fear, like other issues in life, is a choice. We create it most when there’s no real reason. It becomes another self-fulfilling prophecy and gives us permission to make excuses. Excuses become our reality. Fear limits us physically and emotionally. It sucks the life out of us like a dry sponge does to water. Fear’s a drain on our joy, excitement and exhilaration. Identify that which makes you fearful and then choose to develop a strategy to get rid of it, one choice at a time and one fear at a time. Go spread some joy…that’s joyous.

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy in life is when men are afraid of the light.” ~ Plato

Each day, create a goal to think about and acknowledge those people and things that delight you and bring you joy, exhilaration and happiness. It’s all around. Sunrise. Sunset. Air after a rain. Flowers in bloom. Hugs. Dry heat. J You have to want to see it. Good luck. God Bless.

“May the God of hope fill you all with joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:18

This article was reprinted with permission from the author, Captain George Burk, USAF (Ret), Plane crash, burn survivor, motivational speaker, author, writer. Visit his website at  or contact Captain Burk at

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