Category: Meet Our Staff

We hope to see you at the ASQ 2018 World Conference

April 23rd, 2018 by

If you plan to attend the ASQ 2018 World Conference in Seattle, Washington on April 30 – May 2, stop by and say “hello.” Chris Vallee and Dave Janney (pictured left to right) will be at booth #301 discussing how TapRooT® can help you and answer any questions you might have.


The first 500 visitors will receive a special prize, so do not miss out on your free gift! Stop by early to increase your chances in receiving a prize.

Hope to see you there!

Dennis Osmer – RIP

December 8th, 2017 by


Dennis Osmer, 70, TapRooT® User/Instructor and safety and ergonomics expert died on December 1, 2017 from bladder cancer.

Dennis started using TapRooT® at Novartis and became the worldwide head of occupational health, safety, environment, and emergency management at CIBA Vision.

After he retired from CIBA Vision in 2008, he became a TapRooT® Instructor and for five years helped students learn to apply TapRooT® to improve safety and quality. In addition, he helped clients by facilitating difficult investigations to stop future safety issues.

Dennis was one of our first clients to show how TapRooT® could be used to investigate and prevent ergonomics issues while working for CIBA Vision. Here is a link to the success story that he presented at the Global TapRooT® Summit: This work saved many workers the pain and suffering from ergonomic injuries in the facilities customer support and distribution departments and saved the company over $6 million dollars in workers compensation costs in the six years after the program was implemented.

Some people just have an ability to make positive change happen and Dennis was one of those people. Everyone here at System Improvements and all of his students and co-workers, as well as his family, will miss him.

See this link:, for his obituary and memorial.

Congratulations, Yasmin!

May 22nd, 2017 by

Yasmin is not only a TapRooT® rockstar, she is now a University of Tennessee, Knoxville Alumni! Congratulations, we are so proud of you! 

Happy Retirement LJ and Nicki!

February 28th, 2017 by

Today we had a bittersweet celebration for our Admin Team All-Stars, Nicki and LJ! They have dedicated many years to System Improvements (TapRooT®), and we will miss them greatly. If either of them have ever helped you with anything from general inquiries to product sales, you know what wonderful team members they are. Thank you for everything, Nicki and LJ. We wish you all the best!



System Improvements Appreciation Day #3!

November 15th, 2016 by

We are celebrating our wonderful Accounting Department this week!

TapRooT®’s team of super smart accountants do way more than any of us realize. They keep us going, ensure things get paid on time and do it all with an amazing attitude. They deserve more than one day a year of appreciation, so we want make this one great with some Panera bagels!

Join us in thanking Cherie, Liliya, Eric, Susan and Claire.

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System Improvements Appreciation Day #2!

November 9th, 2016 by

The System Improvements Appreciation Days continued this week! Last week we recognized the hard work of our IT guys, this week we want to recognize our amazing Admin team & TapRooT® Course Coordinators.

Have you ever called TapRooT® for help with pretty much anything- products, courses, general info, etc? Well, you probably spoke with our Admin team who do an amazing job of representing the company well. They are definitely the queens of customer service! Also, if you’ve ever attended a TapRooT® course, public or onsite, did you know we have a special team of three superwomen who coordinate, plan & prepare for it? They are a hardworking trio!

We can’t thank these ladies enough for everything they do. But, to show a our thanks this week, we had Chick-Fil-A!

Help us give a special shout out to the TapRooT® Admin team and Course Coordinators!

A-Team & Course Coordinators,

Meet the TapRooT® Tech Support Team

March 2nd, 2016 by

We think our tech support team is pretty great, and they were hard at work today testing TapRooT® VI software. We thought you might want to see the friendly faces that are working hard behind the scene.  If you’ve called in or emailed support, these are the folks who help you with your software questions. If you haven’t noticed yet, they are writing a new column called “Technically Speaking” on the blog. To catch up on what they’ve written so far, go here.





Congratulations Gabby!

December 10th, 2015 by

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

How to Contact Your TapRooT® Staff – LinkedIn

December 5th, 2014 by

The staff at System Improvements really enjoys working with our customers. One great way to keep in touch with our staff is to connect with them on LinkedIn. You can see what they’re up to, where they are, and read about the great ideas they have for you. It’s also an easy way to contact them if you need assistance or answers to any questions.

We invite you to connect with us! Here’s a list of some of our staff and their LinkedIn contact link:

Mark Paradies (President):
Linda Unger (Vice President):
Ed Skompski (Vice President):
Ken Reed (Partner):
Chris Vallee (Senior Associate):
Dave Janney (Senior Associate):
Becky Marambio (Sales Associate):
Benna Dortch (Sales Associate):
Michelle Wishoun (Licensing Associate):
Barbara Phillips (Editorial Director):
Steve Raycraft (Tech Support):
Cherie Larson (Accounting Director):
Judy Potok (Public Course Planner):
Natalie Tabler (On-site Course Planner):

Root Cause Analysis Video Tips: What Makes a World Class Root Cause Analysis System?

October 6th, 2014 by

We hope you enjoy this new format of our Instructor Root Cause Tips. Today we have Ken Reed, TapRooT®/Equifactor® Instructor and Partner, discussing “What Makes a World Class Root Cause Analysis System?”. Be sure to pay attention to the 7 Strengths of TapRooT® that he discusses.

Click here to learn more about our courses where you can learn root cause analysis and implement in your own workplace.


Was this tip helpful? Check out more short videos in our series:

TapRooT® & Healthcare: Getting the Most from Your Sentinel Event Investigation with Ed Skompski (Click here to view tip.)

Prevent Equipment Failures with Ken Reed (Click here to view tip.)

Be Proactive with Dave Janney (Click here to view tip.)

Baby on Board! Welcome to the SI Family.

June 23rd, 2014 by

Our new attorney, Katherine, had a beautiful baby girl recently. Mother and baby are well. Welcome to the family, baby Rebecca!




System Improvements’ Celebration Picnic

May 19th, 2014 by

We just never know what the weather is going to be like in East Tennessee. When we put our company picnic on the calendar in early May, we were enjoying summer-like temperatures, near 90s, but the day of our company picnic (May 16), the temperatures dropped to the 50s and the rain moved in.

No worries, we put on our jackets and we headed to the picnic shelter! Good thing our public meeting planner, Judy, ordered up some warm, spicy Mexican food for our picnic lunch!




We didn’t want to cancel due to a little cold and rain because we had much to celebrate, including the close of Version 5 Software, a wildly successful 2014 Global TapRooT® Summit, and a fond farewell to our in-house attorney, Amanda who is moving to Arizona (pictured below receiving a beautiful farewell message from our VP, Linda).


But we are fortunate that Amanda helped us bring on our new attorney, Katherine (pictured below with Amanda, Linda and Mark, SI President)


Dan, Director of Information Technology & Software Development was recognized for his lead on development of the TapRooT® Sofware. Pictured below are Steve, Tech Support (left), Dan (center),  and our VP, Ed (right).


And pretty soon the clouds parted, the temps rose a few degrees and it was a nice day for a picnic after all! Some of the staff took advantage of the sunshine to pass a football and Frisbee around.


And the rest of us just enjoyed some well-deserved down-time. Pictured below is our A-Team – the ladies who handle our calls and assist with public course registration – left to right: Nicki, Laura, Angela, Alison (A-Team Manager) and Yasmin.


(Pictured below: Yasmin and Laura)


(Pictured below: Licensing Paralegal, Michelle and Implementation Strategist, Benna)


It was a great day of celebration for our hardworking staff!

It’s a Girl! We Celebrate our Attorney’s Growing Family

September 11th, 2013 by

In the office today we celebrated our attorney, Amanda, and her future baby girl. Here are a few fun photos of our baby shower:


The tiniest socks.


Linda J’s husband knitted this soft blanket for baby. What a talented guy!


A baby swing, better known as “The thing that makes ’em happy.” – Mark




Happy partygoers.


Happy Mom.


Congratulations Amanda! We are so joyful with you and can’t wait to meet your new little girl.

TapRooT® Instructor Trivia

December 29th, 2012 by

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How much do you know about TapRooT® Instructors? Take this quiz and find out.

1. Who taught the first root cause analysis course for System Improvements?

2. Who is the tallest TapRooT® Instructor:

a) Chris Vallee
b) Dave Janney
c) Jim Whiting
d) Mark Paradies

3. What TapRooT® Instructor(s) were born in Tennessee (the greenest state in the land of the free)?

4. What instructor did a round-the-world tour helping Rio Tinto implement TapRooT®?

5. Who taught the first TapRooT® Course in Australia?

6. How many countries are home to TapRooT® Instructors? How many continents?

7. What TapRooT® instructor has the highest level university degree?

8. Name the first three female TapRooT® instructors.

9. What TapRooT® Instructor graduated from MIT?

10. What TapRooT® Instructor went swimming in the Beaufort Sea?

For the answers, click on the comments link.

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Happy New Year from System Improvements’ Greenbacks

December 20th, 2012 by

If you have interacted with our accounting team (who we have affectionately dubbed the “Greenbacks”), you know they are top-notch.  Our Controller sent this picture of the team to post on the blog, and our Greenbacks want to let you know how much they have appreciated working with each and every client.  We join our accounting staff in wishing everyone a happy and prosperous New Year.


TapRooT® on “Top of the World”

November 8th, 2012 by

Alan Scott and I just finished teaching a 5 day course in Dubai and decided to go out and have a look around the city.  In addition to teaching TapRooT®, we have something else in common – a fear of heights.  What better way to confront that fear than to visit the “Top of the World,” otherwise known as the observation deck in the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa.  Here is a picture of Alan and I high above the other skyscrapers of Dubai.



Happy Birthday Steve!

July 30th, 2012 by

It has been a fun day around here because we had lots of food and all wore black in honor of our Tech Support Specialist’s 40th birthday.  Steve has a great sense of humor and took our “gifts” (like a pill case with extra large lettering, among other things) with a smile.  Happy birthday, Steve.  Hope in spite of all the ribbing from your co-workers that this is your best decade ever!














Happy Birthday to Barbara Phillips!

May 10th, 2012 by

Our beloved Editorial Director Barbara Phillips celebrates her birthday today!

With balloons, cupcakes, and a crown, we hope this is the start of her best year yet!

March Madness Ends at System Improvements

April 4th, 2012 by

Thank goodness the cool breeze of April is here because things were really heating up around the System Improvements’ office during our 2nd annual March Madness competition. Sadly, Hoosier Hysteria was not enough to make my alma mater, Indiana University, this year’s NCAA champion.  Wistfully, I passed the trophy I’ve proudly displayed in my office for a year, (thanks to Indiana’s Butler Bulldogs in 2011), to a new winner.

But the grin on his face made it a whole lot easier.

Our 2012 Men’s College Basketball Tournament champ is our VP and Partner, Ed “can’t touch this” Skompski.  In second place is TapRooT® Implementation Strategist, Benna “how did he beat me?” Dortch; and third place goes to Controller, Cherie “glad I picked Big Blue Cats” Larson.

Congrats to all!

A TapRooT® Celebration: Natalie is Married!

December 19th, 2011 by

Our onsite course planner, Natalie Prendergast, married this month. Here’s a photo of her and her new husband Richard.

Congratulations, Natalie and Richard! Best wishes for your life together.

Mark Paradies Reaches 6000+ LinkedIn Members in His Network

August 22nd, 2011 by

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LinkedIn is a great way to keep up with your business contacts.

I started using it a couple of years ago and hit another milestone this weekend … 6000+ members in my LinkedIn network.

If you would like to join my network, visit my LinkedIn Profile at:

and send me an invitation by clicking on the “Add Mark Paradies to your network” link at the upper right part of the page.

Just send you invitation as a “We’ve done business together before” invitation.

Also, consider joining the TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis Users and Friends” Group on LinkedIn. See the group profile at:

The group is getting close to 1000 members who ask question and share information.

TapRooT® Team Enjoys Summer Night at the Smokies Game

August 17th, 2011 by

A group of baseball fans from the TapRooT®/System Improvements office in Knoxville, Tennessee recently enjoyed a night out at the Tennessee Smokies ball game. The Tennessee Smokies are a Minor League Baseball team based in our metropolitan area (Knoxville, Tennessee). The team is the Double-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs of Major League Baseball as of the 2011 season.










What's the Root Cause of this TapRooT® Celebration?

August 16th, 2011 by

A picturesque setting and perfect weather …









A picnic shelter …










Enough delicious food to feed a TapRooT® Summit crowd …











.Fun loving children …










Beautiful families and relaxed conversation























Made it a perfect evening to celebrate 15 years dedicated to changing the way the world solves problems!











Congratulations Ed and Alison!

15 Year Anniversary with System Improvements!

Meet the Staff! Ninth and Final Week: Co-creators of TapRooT®

May 12th, 2011 by

Today’s Meet the Staff members are Mark Paradies and Linda Unger.

They co-created the TapRooT® System and co-authored the TapRooT® Book.

Co-creator of TapRooT®Mark grew up in Indiana and Illinois. He started System Improvements in 1988, and is still the President of the company. His favorite part of his work here is the people he gets to work with, along with the opportunity to help others save lives and fix problems. If he were an animal, he’d either be a whale due to their intelligence, or a soaring eagle.

You can see his LinkedIn profile at:

and he’ll be glad to accept all invitations to connect.

Co-creator of TapRooT®Linda grew up in Tennessee. She joined System Improvements in 1990 and is Vice President of the company. Her favorite part of her work is working with fantastic clients to develop their TapRooT® implementation plans – for example, in what areas do they want to improve by using TapRooT®, who gets what training, how will they use TapRooT® Software, and how TapRooT® will fit in with their other programs.

She loves seeing the great improvements her clients make in their businesses by using TapRooT®. If she were an animal, she’d be a road-runner because they are always going fast and she likes to get lots done.

Thank you for taking the time to learn a little bit more about our exciting, intelligent staff. We look forward to working with you in future classes, investigations, and Summits.

Find out more about our TapRooT® Courses here.

Meet the Staff! Week Eight: Instructors

May 5th, 2011 by

Welcome to the eighth week of our Meet the Staff series. It’s been fun to share info on our intelligent, hard-working, friendly staff at System Improvements. This week, learn a little bit more about the instructors that teach you TapRooT®!

Ken Reed is from Watertown, NY. He came to System Improvements from the US Navy, beginning his work here in 2005. He is a partner and Senior Instructor, as well as the point person for Equifactor® Equipment Troubleshooting Program and course development. He loves working with the “awesome” people at SI due to their great attitudes, motivation, and intelligence. Ken loves the knowledge that he is making an important contribution to others through his job. If he were an animal, he’d be a dolphin—sleek, smart, and always smiling!

Dave Janney is from New Castle, Delaware. He started working at SI in November of2008. He’s a TapRooT® instructor, using his expertise to share root cause analysis with students around the world. He gets great satisfaction in working with people from different industries, having been in his for a full 27 years prior to working with TapRooT®.

Chris Vallee grew up in Georgia and formerly was in the US Air Force. He began working at SI in October of 2007 and is a Senior Associate, Instructor, and Investigation Facilitator. His favorite things about working here are “the people I work with, the people I teach with, and the people I learn from.” If Chris were an animal he’d be a four-year-old dog, just old enough to relax and just young enough to still enjoy it.

Ed Skompski was born and raised in Panama City, Florida. He began working at SI in 1996. He’s currently a partner and Vice President of Market Development. He likes the people he works with, watching customers come to understand TapRooT®, and teaching courses. “The passion and impact we have on our customers is incredible and I love being a part of that,” he raves. If he were an animal he’d like be a cat, resting and enjoying life as it comes.

Next week, learn some fun and interesting facts about our President and Vice President Mark Paradies and Linda Unger, co-creators of TapRooT®!

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