Category: Performance Improvement

Senior Management & Root Cause Analysis

August 19th, 2015 by

What is the easiest way to tell a good root cause analysis program from a bad one?

The involvement of senior management.

How do you know if a root cause analysis program is about to fail?

Senior management changes and the new management shows no interest in the root cause analysis program.

What level of senior management is involved in the best root cause analysis programs?

All the way to the corporate board.


The answers to the three questions above show that senior management involvement is extremely important to the success of any root cause analysis program. The better the root cause analysis program, the more senior management involvement counts. That’s why I thought I’d take this time to explain how senior management should be involved in a root cause analysis program.



I’ve seen a few leading companies where the Corporate Board was knowledgeable of the safety/process safety/quality improvement programs. The best had a senior manager who was responsible for reporting key reactive and proactive statistics to a special board committee with primary responsibility for safety and other improvement efforts. The committee, that included the CEO, also was provided with overviews of the most serious incident investigations and summaries of improvement efforts.

This board’s interest ensured that people paid attention to the programs and that budgets weren’t slashed for key improvement initiatives (because they were supported by the board).


Of course, VPs or Division Managers were interested in their division’s reactive and proactive improvement performance. What VP or Division Manager wouldn’t be if the Corporate Board was going to see their statistics. They wanted to be able to manage performance so they became involved in improvement efforts. The held divisional meetings to review progress and presentation of root cause analyses of their biggest problems. They held Plant Managers and Unit Leaders responsible for their performance making improvement programs succeed.


Involved Plant Managers demand good root cause analysis and schedule reviews of detailed root cause analyses of significant problem investigations. They make sure that their key improvement programs are staffed with well trained, insightful leaders and that they have plentiful staff and budget to perform investigations, review reactive and proactive statistics, sponsor training throughout the plant, and look outside the company for improvement ideas. They are the site sponsors of the improvement programs. They are trained in the root cause analysis tools being applied at the plant. Because they are trained, they offer insightful critiques of the investigation presentations. They reward employees for their participation in root cause analyses and the improvement programs.


Is your senior management involved in performance improvement?

Do you have best practices for management involvement that I’ve missed and should be included here?

What do you need to do to improve your management involvement?

If you have support, are you ready for management turnover?

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Don’t worry if your program doesn’t have all the management support that it needs. But don’t ignore your program’s shortcomings. Work on getting more management support all the way up to the corporate board.

When safety/improvement performance is seen as equally important, you know you have achieved a level of support that most improvement managers can only dream about.

Get More from TapRooT®: Follow our Pages on LinkedIn

August 13th, 2015 by

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.”

training page

Thank you for being part of the global TapRooT® community!

Stop the Sacrifices

July 30th, 2015 by


Over a decade ago, I wrote this article to make a point about stopping construction fatalities. I’ve reposted it because it is missing from the archives. Does it still apply today? Perhaps it applies in many other industries as well. Let me know by leaving a comment.

StopSacrifices.pdf (click to open the pdf)

Simple Corporate Turnaround – Go from a money losing operation to a money making good example.

July 28th, 2015 by

Is your company making money, losing money, or breaking even?  How do you go from being a money-losing or break-even operation to a money-making good example?

Here’s a quick answer:

1. Send at team to TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis Training.

2. When they get back to work, put them to work solving your most expensive problems.

Don’t think this will work? Then see this success story…

Want more proof? See the rest of the success stories at:

If you need to improve your sites profitability, learn to use TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis to solve operational and maintenance problems. See our public course schedule for courses being held around the world at:


Root Cause Analysis Tip: 6 Reasons to Look for Generic Root Causes

July 22nd, 2015 by


“Allowing generic causes to fester can sometimes cause similar problems to pop up in unexpected areas.”

You have established a good performance improvement program, supported by performing solid incident investigations.  Your teams are finding good root causes, and your corrective action program is tracking through to completion.  But you still seem to be seeing more repeat issues than you expect.  What could be the problem?

We find many companies are doing a great job using TapRooT® to find and correct the root causes discovered during their investigations.  But many companies are skipping over the Generic Cause Analysis portion of the investigation process.  While fixing the individual root causes are likely to prevent that particular issue from happening again, allowing generic causes to fester can sometimes cause similar problems to pop up in unexpected areas.

6 Reasons to Look for Generic Root Causes

Here are 6 reasons to conduct a generic cause analysis on your investigation results:

1. The same incident occurs again at another facility.

2. Your annual review shows the same root cause from several incident investigations.

3.  Your audits show recurrence of the same behavior issues.

4. You apply the same corrective action over and over.

5. Similar incidents occur in different departments.

6. The same Causal Factor keeps showing up.

These indicators point to the need to look deeper for generic causes.  These generic issues are allowing similar root causes and causal factors to show up in seemingly unrelated incidents.  When management is reviewing incident reports and audit findings, one of your checklist items should be to verify that generic causes were considered and either addressed or verified not to be present.  Take a look at how your incident review checklist and make sure you are conducting a generic cause analysis during the investigation.

Finding and correcting generic causes are basically a freebie; you’ve already performed the investigation and root cause analysis.  There is no reason not to take a few extra minutes and verify that you are fully addressing any generic issues.

Learn more about finding and fixing root causes in our 2-day or 5-day TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis courses!

The more things change the more they stay the same…

July 21st, 2015 by

I overheard a senior executive talking about the problems his company was facing:

  • Prices for their commodity were down, yet costs for production were up.
  • Cost overruns and schedule slippages were too common.
  • HSE performance was stagnant despite improvement goals.
  • They had several recent quality issues that had caused customer complaints.
  • They were cutting “unnecessary” spending like training and travel to make up for revenue shortfalls. 

I thought to myself … 

“How many times have I heard this story?”

I felt like interrupting him and explaining how he could stop at least some of his PAIN. 

I can’t do anything about low commodity prices. The price of oil, copper, gold, coal, or iron ore is beyond my control. And he can’t control these either.

 But he was doing things that were making his problems (pain) worse. 

For example, if you want to stop cost overruns, you need to analyze and fix the root causes of cost overruns.

How do you do that? With TapRooT®.

And how would people learn about TapRooT®? By going to training.

And what had he eliminated? The training budget!

How about the stagnant HSE performance?

To improve performance his company needs to do something different. They need to learn best practices from other industry leaders from their industry AND from other industries.

Where could his folks learn this stuff? At the TapRooT® Summit.

His folks didn’t attend because they didn’t have a training or travel budget!

And the quality issues? He could have his people use the same advanced root cause analysis tools (TapRooT®) to attack them that they were already using for cost, schedule, and HSE incidents. Oh, wait. His people don’t know about TapRooT®. They didn’t attend training.

This reminds me of a VP at a company that at the end of a presentation about a major accident that cost his company big $$$$ and could have caused multiple fatalities (but they were lucky that day). The accident had causes that were directly linked to a cost cutting/downsizing initiative that the VP had initiated for his division. The cost cutting initiative had been suggested by consultants to make the company more competitive in a down economy with low commodity prices. At the end of the presentation he said:

“If anybody would have told me the impacts of these cuts, I wouldn’t have made them!”

Yup. Imaging that. Those bad people didn’t tell him he was causing bad performance by cutting the people and budget they needed to make the place work. 

That accident and quote occurred almost 20 years ago.

Yes, this isn’t the first time we have faced a poor economy, dropping commodity prices, or performance issues. The more things change, the more they stay the same!

But what can you do?

Share this story!

And let your management know how TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis can help them alleviate their PAIN!

Once they understand how TapRooT®’s systematic problem solving can help them improve performance even in a down economy, they will realize that the small investment required is well worth it compared to the headaches they will avoid and the performance improvement they can achieve.

Because in bad times it is especially true that:

“You can stop spending bad money
or start spending good money
fast enough!”


Food Safety & Criminal Charges

July 16th, 2015 by


The Associated Press reported that the US Department of Justice is warning food companies that they could face civil and criminal charges if they poison their customers.


Yes, you read it right.

We are again testing the fine line between accidents and criminal behavior.

How does a company know that they have gone over the line? The FDA stops showing up and the FBI puts boundary tape around your facilities.

Are you in the food business? Think it is time to start taking root cause analysis of food safety incidents seriously? You betcha!

Your company can’t afford a Blue Bell Ice Cream incident. You need to effectively analyze and learn from smaller incidents to stop the big accidents from happening.

What tool should you use for effective root cause analysis? The TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis System.

Why choose TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis?

Because it has proven itself effective in a wide number of industries around the world. That’s why industry leaders use it and recommend it to their suppliers. 

Find out more about the TapRooT® System at:

And then attend one of our public courses held around the world.  

You can attend at no risk because of our iron-clad guarantee:

Attend a TapRooT® Course, go back to work, and use what you have learned to analyze accidents, incidents, near-misses, equipment failures, operating issues, or quality problems. If you don’t find root causes that you previously would have overlooked and if you and your management don’t agree that the corrective actions that you recommend are much more effective, just return your course materials/software and we will refund the entire course fee.

Get started NOW because you can’t afford to wait for the FBI to knock on your door with a warrant in their hand.


IT/Computer Problems and Root Cause Analysis

July 8th, 2015 by

United grounds all of their flights for two hours due to “computer problems” (see the CNBC story). 

The NYSE stops trading for over three hours due to an “internal technical issue” (see the CNBC story).

Computer issues can cost companies big bucks and cause public relations headaches. Do you think they should be applying state of the art root cause analysis tools both reactively and proactively to prevent and avoid future problems?

TapRooT® has been used to improve computer reliability and security by performing root cause analysis of computer/IT related events and developing effective corrective actions. The first TapRooT® uses for computer/high reliability network problems where banking and communication service providers that started using TapRooT® in the late 1990’s. The first computer security application of TapRooT® that we knew about was in the early 2000s. 

Need to improve your root cause analysis of computer and IT issues? Attend one of our TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis Courses. See the upcoming course schedule at:

Robot Made a Human Error and a Worker was Killed

July 8th, 2015 by


The 22-year-old man died in hospital after the accident at a plant in Baunatal, 100km north of Frankfurt. He was working as part of a team of contractors installing the robot when it grabbed him, according to the German car manufacturer. Volkswagen’s Heiko Hillwig said it seemed that human error was to blame.

A worker grabs the wrong thing and often gets asked, “what were you thinking?” A robot picks up the wrong thing and we start looking for root causes.

Read the article below to learn more about the fatality and ask why would we not always look for root causes once we identify the actions that occurred?


Would you know if your corrective action resulted in an accident?

June 30th, 2015 by

“Doctor… how do you know that the medicine you prescribed him fixed the problem,” the peer asked. “The patient did not come back,” said the doctor.

No matter what the industry and or if the root causes found for an issue was accurate, the medicine can be worse than the bite. Some companies have a formal Management of Change Process or a Design of Experiment Method that they use when adding new actions.  On the other extreme, some use the Trial and Error Method… with a little bit of… this is good enough and they will tell us if it doesn’t work.

You can use the formal methods listed above or it can be as simple for some risks to just review with the right people present before implementation of an action occurs. We teach to review for unintended consequences during the creation of and after the implementation of corrective or preventative actions in our 7 Step TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis Process. This task comes with four basic rules first:

1. Remove the risk/hazard or persons from the risk/hazard first if possible. After all, one does not need to train somebody to work safer or provide better tools for the task, if the task and hazard is removed completely. (We teach Safeguard Analysis to help with this step)

2. Have the right people involved throughout the creation of, implementation of and during the review of the corrective or preventative action. Identify any person who has impact on the action, owns the action or will be impacted by the change, to include process experts. (Hint, it is okay to use outside sources too.)

3. Never forget or lose sight of why you are implementing a corrective or preventative action. In our analysis process you must identify the action or inaction (behavior of a person, equipment or process) and each behaviors’ root causes. It is these root causes that must be fixed or mitigated for, in order for the behaviors to go away or me changed. Focus is key here!

4. Plan an immediate observation to the change once it is implemented and a long term audit to ensure the change sustained.

Simple… yes? Maybe? Feel free to post your examples and thoughts.

Product Safety Recall…… one of the few times that I see Quality and Safety Merge

June 22nd, 2015 by

We can all remember some type of major product recall that affected us in the past (tires, brakes, medicine….) or recalls that may be impacting us today (air bags). These recalls all have a major theme, a company made something and somebody got hurt or worse. This is a theme of “them verses those” perception.

Now stop and ask, when is the last time quality and safety was discussed as one topic in your current company’s operations?

You received a defective tool or product….

  1. You issued a defective tool or product….
  2. A customer complained….
  3. A customer was hurt….
  4. ???….

Each of the occurrences above often triggers an owner for each type of problem:

  1. The supplier…
  2. The vendor…
  3. The contractor…
  4. The manufacturer….
  5. The end user….

Now stop and ask, who would investigate each type of problem? What tools would each group use to investigate? What are their expertise and experiences in investigation, evidence collection, root cause analysis, corrective action development or corrective action implementation?

This is where we create our own internal silo’s for problem solving; each problem often has it’s own department as listed in the company’s organizational chart:

  1. Customer Service (Quality)
  2. Manufacturing (Quality or Engineering)
  3. Supplier Management (Supply or Quality)
  4. EHS (Safety)
  5. Risk (Quality)
  6. Compliance (?)

The investigations then take the shape of the tools and experiences of those departments training and experiences.

Does anyone besides me see a problem or an opportunity here?

Monday Accident & Lessons Learned: Fire Truck Accident & Lessons Learned

June 1st, 2015 by

What do you think of this accident investigation and lessons learned?

Interesting Article: “Obama Torpedoes the Nuclear Navy”

May 27th, 2015 by

John Lehman, the youngest Secretary of the Navy who fired the oldest admiral ever, says that Obama’s decision to promote the head of the Nuclear Navy after just two years will put the best safety record in the world at risk. 

Here’s a link to the article:

What do you think?


May 14th, 2015 by


When a major accident happens, look out. The tradition is for “heads to roll.”

That’s right, people get fired.

Who get’s fired? Those that are seen as “part of the problem.”

You need to be part of the solution.


Investigate the incident using the TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis System, find the real, fixable root causes, suggest corrective actions that will prevent the problem from happening again, and be ready to help implement the solutions.

Then you are part of the answer … Not part of the problem.

Or you could just sit around and wait to get fired.

The choice is yours.

Get trained to use TapRooT® root cause analysis to solve problems. See:

How much money does your company lose choosing the CHEAPEST answer rather than the BEST answer?

May 13th, 2015 by

Last week I had someone contact me on LinkedIn to ask if I knew of any free root cause analysis tools to use to investigate accidents.


Yup, they exist. But would you bet your career, your management’s future, and people’s lives on a free answer to significant problems?

Haven’t you heard the old saying:

You get what you pay for!

That got me thinking … How much money do companies lose choosing the cheapest answer rather than the best answer?

Not long ago I saw an article by equipment reliability expert Heinz Bloch about the the true cost of quality. It was an eye opener. (By the way, did you know that Heinz is presenting three talks at the 2015 Global TapRooT® Summit?)

And how many people have you seen that recommend cheap training answers for corrective actions that you know won’t be effective. The incident will happen again causes more loses.

I had someone else tell me that their company was saving money by not having people attend the 2015 Global TapRooT® Summit even though the Summit is guaranteed to produce a return on investment of 10 times the Summit’s cost. They are missing guaranteed improvements and falling behind those who aren’t:

Penny wise and pound foolish.

Don’t make the same mistake.

Adopt the best answer and save.

Attend the 2015 Global TapRooT® Summit on June 3-5 in Las Vegas. Register at:

What is the burden of unsolved problems at your company?

May 4th, 2015 by

Do you have incidents that happen over and over again?

Do you have repeat equipment failures?

Does your hospital have similar sentinel events that aren’t solved by your root cause analysis?

How much are these repetitive problems costing your company?

Stop making excuses and try something NEW that can help you stop repetitive problems…

IDEA #1: Attend at TapRooT® Course to stop repeat incidents.

Choose from the:

These courses are guarantee to help you find root causes that you previously would have overlooked and develop corrective actions that both you and your management agree are more effective.

IDEA #2: Attend the Creative Corrective Actions Course.

Hurry, this course is only offered on June 1-2, prior to the TapRooT® Summit. If your creativity for solving problems is getting stale, this is the course you need to attend.

IDEA #3:: Attend the 2015 Global TapRooT® Summit in Las Vegas on June 3-5.

The Summit is a proven place to network and learn valuable best practices that can help you solve your toughest problems. Each Summit is unique, so you don’t want to miss one. And this year’s Summit is rapidly approaching. Register today at:

Monday Accident & Lessons Learned: Contractor Accidents in Europe

May 4th, 2015 by

Click below to download a report from the European Major Accidents Reporting System (eMARS) about contractor related safety.


How Did the TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis System Get So Far Ahead of the Rest?

April 28th, 2015 by

I was at a conference yesterday and one of the talks was about advanced root cause analysis. The presenter’s company had their own “home grown” root cause analysis system and they discovered that they were not getting consistent results. Improvement was needed!

They studied their system and discovered something that was missing – management system causes. In the TapRooT® System we have called these “Generic Causes” since we copyrighted the first TapRooT® manual in 1991. 

It made me think … Why did they wait 24 years to discover something we’ve known about since before 1991?

Next, I talked with an engineer who had been trained in a common cause and effect system. He wasn’t too pleased with the results he was getting. He wanted to know how TapRooT® could help. Was it different?

I shared how TapRooT® works (see this LINK for the explanation) and it took quite a bit of effort to get beyond the cause and effect model that he thoroughly understood so that he could understand why he was missing things. He was really smart. He asked very insightful questions. He latched onto the reasons that the less systematic cause and effect analysis led to inconsistent results. He saw how TapRooT® could help investigators go beyond their paradigm and get consistent results. 

By the end of this second conversation I started thinking … How did we get so far ahead of common root cause systems?

I think I know the answer.

It starts with the Human Factors training that I received at the University of Illinois. It really showed me how to think about human centered design – including designing a root cause analysis system that people could use consistently.

Second, I was fortunate enough to work in the Nuclear Navy where there was an excellent process safety culture and for Du Pont where there was an excellent industrial safety culture. This helped me see how management systems made a difference to performance. (My boss and I at Du Pont actually coined the phrase “Management System” that is now commonly used throughout industry.)

Third, I was well trained by my mentor at the University of Illinois, Dr. Charles O. Hopkins, how to do applied research. So the research I did studying root cause analysis in the mid-1980’s and early 1990’s really paid off when we created the TapRooT® System.

Fourth, we had a really good team that brought out the best in each other during the early development.

Next, we were lucky to have some excellent clients in the nuclear, oil, and aviation industries that were great early adopters and provided excellent feedback that we used to quickly improve TapRooT® root cause analysis in the early and mid-1990’s. 

Finally, I made friends with and/or listened to many industry gurus who were experts in safety, process safety, quality, and equipment reliability. Their influence was built into TapRooT® and helped it be a world-class system even in it’s early stages. These experts included:

  • Jerry Ledderer, aviation safety pioneer
  • Dr. Charles O. Hopkins, human factors pioneer
  • Smoke Price, human factors expert
  • Larry Minnick, nuclear safety expert
  • Rod Satterfield, nuclear safety expert
  • Dr. Alan Swain, human reliability expert
  • Heinz Bloch, equipment reliability expert
  • Admiral Hyman Rickover, father of the Nuclear Navy and process safety expert
  • Dr. Christopher Wickens, human factors expert
  • Dr. Jens Rassmussen, system reliability and human factors expert
  • W. Edwards Deming, quality management guru
  • Admiral Dennis Wilkerson, first CO of the Nautilus and first CEO of INPO

That’s quite a list and I was lucky to be influenced by each of these great men. Their influence made TapRooT® root cause analysis far ahead of any other root cause tool.

So that’s why I shouldn’t be surprised that others are finally catching on to things that we knew 25 years ago. Perhaps in a century, they will catch up with the improvements we are making to TapRooT® today (with the help of thousands of users from around the world). 

If you would like to learn the state-of-the-art of root cause analysis and not wait 25 to 100 years to catch up, perhaps you should attend a TapRooT® Course in the next month or two. See our course schedule for upcoming public courses at:

And get information about all the courses we offer at:

And if you would like to learn about the state of the art of performance improvement, attend the 2015 TapRooT® Summit coming up on June 1-5 in Las Vegas. Get more information and download the brochure at:

 But don’t wait. Every day you wait you will be another day behind the state-of-the-art in root cause analysis and performance improvement. Don’t be left behind!

TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis
Changing the Way the World Solves Problems




April 28th, 2015 by

Screen Shot 2015 04 24 at 3 45 24 PM

Because of the low oil prices, the registration for the 2015 Global TapRooT® Summit by people in the oil and gas industry is down.

As a business owner, I can understand that when your revenues shrink, you need to cut costs. However, as a smart business owner, I know that some expenditures are BUSINESS CRITICAL. If you cut these expenses you aren’t “cutting fat”, you are cutting “meat and bone” and, as a result, future performance will suffer.

The 2015 TapRooT® Summit should be on your list of BUSINESS CRITICAL expenditures that should NOT be cut unless you plan to file for bankruptcy and go out of business. Let me explain why …

First, managers may get the impression that conferences, especially those in Las Vegas, are a boondoggle. Conference attendees are just going for a good time. This IS NOT TRUE with the TapRooT® Summit.

People work hard at the TapRooT® Summit to learn valuable best practices and new ideas for improving performance that they will come back to work and implement. Participants arrive early and stay late to have additional discussions with new people they meet. Attendees make detailed plans of what they are going to do when they get back to work. 

Of course, the Summit is NOT all work and no play. We want you to have a good time. And we think that adds to the learning experience. But I think we do a much better job than any other conference I’ve attended at getting people involved in the learning process.

In 1993 I started planning the first the Summit because there was not a place for professionals interested in practical performance improvement and root cause analysis to get together, network, discuss the latest practical improvements and research, and get motivated to return to the fight to change performance for the better. I was not looking to create a conference full of fluff or the same old thing. Rather, I wanted the conference to push the state-of-the-art and promote all of our best users to make themselves even better. That same theme is the basis for the TapRooT® Summit that we are holding in June.

In addition, the purpose of the Summit is not to make money for System Improvements. At best, we break even. Often, we eat a loss. But we think it is worthwhile for our instructors (who are required to attend) and our users (who we hope will attend). The fee involved helps defray the cost of holding the Summit (which you might guess is considerable).

By why should people from the oil industry attend the 2015 TapRooT® Summit?

Because the oil industry just can’t afford another tragic accident. Even in these times of low oil prices, the industry needs to be redoubling their efforts to improve safety and environmental performance. And that’s where the 2015 Global TapRooT® Summit comes in. 

Look at the talks and workshops in all the track at the 2015 Global TapRooT® Summit (CLICK HERE). Perhaps you should be working to improve performance by learning from some of these sessions:

  • Improving your corrective actions
  • Improving your root cause analysis and grading your investigation reports
  • Proactively improving equipment reliability
  • Developing proactive performance metrics to spot problems before accidents happen
  • How to stop “normalization of deviation”
  • How to give good feedback to employees by praising character rather than results
  • How to track errors and defects/waste on a daily basis
  • How to conduct a root cause analysis of multiple similar events
  • Find the gaps in your performance improvement program

That’s just a sample of what you could be learning about if you attend this BUSINESS CRITICAL meeting.

But learning IS NOT all that happens at the Summit. The Summit is also about MOTIVATION.

When your company is suffering and people are being laid off, it’s easy to lose your motivation and sink into despair (maybe even desperation). But 2015 Global TapRooT® Summit will send people back to work INSPIRED to make improvement happen even in difficult times.

What might inspire them? Try these Keynote Speakers:


  • Dan Quiggle, an aid to President Reagan, will talk about the lessons he learned about leadership from President Ronald Reagan. I don’t care what your politics are, his stories will provide you with motivation to go back to work and make change happen.
  • Walter Bond, and NBA star and business owner, will inspire you with a message about self-motivation to become the best.
  • Dr. Beverly Chiodo, voted the best speaker we have ever had at the Summit and known as the “Doctor of Encouragement”, will share her inspiring stories about the right way to provide feedback to inspire people to do the right thing for the right reason.
  • Alan Smith and Mhorvan Sherret, both retired senior detectives from Scotland who worked accidents in the North Sea, will discuss responding to major accidents. You will once again be inspired by their stories to stop accidents BEFORE they can happen.


  • Captain Richard Phillips, the real life inspiration for the movie Captain Phillips (staring Tom Hanks), will share his real life experience. You think you are going through hard times? Think again.
If critical lessons learned, discovering gaps in your current programs, and getting motivated to make performance improvement happen isn’t enough to make this a BUSINESS CRITICAL meeting, them perhaps the knowledge you could gain at one of the 15 Pre-Summit Courses is. And when you attend the Summit and a Pre-Summit Course, you get $200 off the combined price (so you save money too!).
I hope that this short list of reasons that you MUST ATTEND the 2015 Global TapRooT® Summit provides you with the ammunition you need to go to your senior management TODAY, show them what they will be missing if you do not attend, and get permission to participate in this BUSINESS CRITICAL MEETING.
REGISTER TODAY and get your travel plans made. You won’t be sorry that you made the effort and got special permission to be there because your efforts will:
  • PREVENT INJURIES, and perhaps

Monday Accident & Lessons Learned: How Many People Will Die Waiting for Management to Implement an Effective Improvement Program?

April 27th, 2015 by


You see the results of ineffective improvement programs in the headlines …

Ten Die in Refinery Explosion

Four Asphyxiated in Confined Space Accident

Fire Kills There Workers

Forklift Accident Kills Teenage Worker

Scaffold Collapse Kills Two Construction Workers

Trench Collapse Kills Father of Three

Welder Killed When Tank Explodes

Eleven Killed in Offshore Platform Explosion

Mine Accident Kills 13

Perhaps you think these were just bad days. That accidents just happen. The truth is that most fatalities are the result of bad programs. They were accidents waiting to happen. If management had effective reactive and proactive improvement programs, these accidents, and others ones like them, would not have had to happen.


  • Why didn’t management push for better safety improvement?
  • Why wasn’t improving their improvement program one of their highest (or their highest) priority? 
  • How many people have to die to get management’s attention and make them get excited about investing in effective improvement?

The fatalities continue while we wait for the answer.

If YOU are excited about improving your improvement program and PREVENTING FATALITIES, I have a few ideas for you …

  1. Take your senior manager on a hazard walk around. Go to one or two places in your plant and challenge the manager to spot all the hazards (sources of energy that could cause a fatality). Did they miss height, lack of breathable air, moving equipment, or other sources that you have seen? Next, take several sources of energy and ask what are the safeguards that keep a fatal accident from happening. Then ask for each safeguard, when was the last time that the manager heard of an audit of the effectiveness of that safeguard? When was the last time the manager checked the effectiveness of that safeguard? Do this once a week and the manager will start thinking hazards, safeguards, and audits of safeguards effectiveness.
  2. Take your manager to the 2015 TapRooT® Summit. They will network with the leaders in performance improvement that attend the Summit and they can benchmark their improvement efforts against others. They will probably find that they have some good practices to share. But they will also discover some gaps in their programs that need improvement and best practices to make that improvement occur.
  3. Have on-site training for your management team. Consider the 2-Day TapRooT® Incident Investigation and Root Cause Analysis Course. Or the Proactive Use of TapRooT® Course. One company even had all their Senior Project Managers (who manage construction programs over $500 million) attend the 5-Day TapRooT® Advanced Root Cause Analysis Team Leader Training. One of these senior managers pulled me aside to tell me that it was the most valuable management training he had ever had!

Don’t just sit around waiting for management to get excited about improvement after major accident. Prevent the accident. Get them excited about preventing fatalities! 

Grading Your Investigations – Summit Best Practice Session 2 at the 2015 Global TapRooT® Summit in Las Vegas

April 23rd, 2015 by

Mark Paradies is organizing the “Grading Your Investigations” session at the 2015 Global TapRooT® Summit

At this session participants will use an Excel spreadsheet (download your copy below) to grade a typical incident investigation from your facility.

All participants attending this session are asked to bring an investigation report from your facility and the Excel spreadsheet available below preloaded onto a device so that you can participate in the exercise that will teach attendees to grade their company’s investigations using the spreadsheet.


Monday Accident & Lessons Leaned: Learning from a Lack of Accidents

April 20th, 2015 by

Screen Shot 2015 04 16 at 6 07 12 PM

As a stockholder, I was reading The CB&I 2014 Annual Report. The section on “Safety” caught my eye. Here is a quote from that section:

Everything at CB&I begins with safety; it is our most important core value and the foundation for our success. In 2014, our employees maintained a lost-time incident rate of 0.03 for more than 160 million work-hours. This equals one lost-time incident for every 6.2 million hours on the job. These numbers are a testament to our safety record and a reason why we are in the top tier of safest companies in the industry.

CB&I’s lost time incident rate is 50 times better than the industry average (.03 compared to 1.5). That might make you wonder, how do they do that?

Answering that question is learning from a lack of accidents!

Here are a couple of thoughts that I have…

First, when you see this kind of success, you know it is because of management, supervisory, and employee involvement in accomplishing a safe workplace. Everybody has to be involved. There can’t be finger pointing and blame. Everybody has to work together.

Second, I know CB&I is a TapRooT® User. CB&I has trained TapRooT® Investigators to find and fix the root causes of incidents and, thereby, keep major accidents (LTI’s and fatalities) from occurring.

So, congratulations CB&I on your excellent performance! Congratulations on the lives you have saved and the injuries you have avoided!

If you are interested in having industry leading safety performance, perhaps you should get your folks trained to find and fix the root causes of problems by using advanced TapRooT® root cause analysis. Find out about our courses at THIS LINK.

And consider attending the 2015 Global TapRooT® Summit on June 1-5 in Las Vegas. You can:

  • meet industry leaders who are achieving world-class performance
  • benchmark your programs with their programs
  • learn industry leading best practices
  • get motivated to take your safety performance to the next level.

See the 2015 Global TapRooT® Summit schedule at:

Root Cause Analysis Tip: Fixing Generic Causes

April 15th, 2015 by

One of the final steps in performing a TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis is finding Generic Causes.

What is a Generic Cause? It is the reason that a root cause is widespread.

For example, a root cause for an error made while using a procedure might be that the procedure has more than one action per step.


4. Remove the drum lid and the polyethylene liner lid, place liner in prepared drum and place in loading position at the final packaging hut. Insert plastic bag in drum liner. Seal the plastic bag with tape to the inside of the drum loading insert. 

The fix for this specific root cause might look something like this:

4.  Remove the drum lid and the polyethylene liner lid.     .     .     .     .     . ___

5.  Place liner in prepared drum.    .     .     .     .     .    .    .    .    .    .    .    . ___

6.  Place prepared drum in loading position at the final packaging hut.    . ___

7.  Insert plastic bag in drum liner.    .     .     .     .     .    .    .    .    .    .    .   ___

8.  Seal the plastic bag with tape to the inside of the drum loading insert.  ___

 If the team then went to check other procedures and found that this problem was widespread, they would then have a generic problem. The question then becomes: “Why is the problem of ‘more than one action per step’ so widespread? What is the generic Cause that allows us to produce poor procedures?

The root cause analysis team may find that the people writing procedures have no guidance for writing procedures and no training on how to write procedures.

This should cause the team to look for other generic procedure problems.They might also find that procedure formats are confusing, the level of detail is inconsistent, there are excessive references, and the graphics need improvement.

The Corrective Action Helper® Guide provides guidance to fix these kinds of Generic Causes. But the widespread generic procedure problems probably indicate that the company or site doesn’t really know how to produce good procedures. Therefore, the Corrective Action Helper® Book recommendation to fix specific Generic Causes might not be enough guidance.

For example, the Corrective Action Helper® Guide says that for generic “greater than one action per step” problems, the investigators should consider:

“…a general procedure improvement program to remove multiple actions per step from the rest of the facilities procedures.”

However, if the procedures are in really bad shape, more must be done.

Of course, the Corrective Action Helper® Guide provides even more information – references. And if the investigators read the suggested reference, they may look for the additional problems and develop a plan to improve their procedures that is more comprehensive.

That would be great. But how many read the references? My guess is … not that many. After all, in today’s downsized, super-efficient workplace, people just don’t have time.

That’s why System Improvements is here to provide assistance.

If you run into generic problems that you think may be important to fix, we can help.

At a minimum, we can coach your team on the development of generic corrective actions.

Beyond that, we can put an evaluation team together to evaluate the scope of the Generic Cause and develop a plan to improve performance by eliminating the Generic Cause and upgrading current systems.

Finally, if you really need help, we can put together a team to help implement the fix. In this cause, a team of experienced procedure writers to help your company fix their current procedures and coach your procedure writers how to write better procedures in the future.

We can even make rerun visits to audit the status of the corrective actions and the work of your procedure writers.

So when you find a Generic Cause that you know your company isn’t good at fixing (or doesn’t have the time to explore and fix), remember that System Improvements can help.

Don’t let problems repeat because Generic Causes are left un-fixed. Get help. Call us at 865-539-2139 or CLICK HERE to send us a message. We can help you improve!

Top 10 Improvement Goals for 2015/2016

April 14th, 2015 by

Screen Shot 2015 04 12 at 6 00 32 AMAntoine de Saint-Exupery

Usually you think about goals when you are setting budgets or maybe at the start of the year. But now that we are well into the year (the first quarter is complete), it might be time to review your goals and your progress on them for the year (and into next year).

Let’s start with the Top 10 Goals that would be applicable to most TapRooT® Users. Take a moment to review them, see if any of them are on your list, and reflect on how you are doing on achieving them.

Then, once you have contemplated your goals, I have a suggestion for you to consider for each goal.

So let’s get started. Here are the Top 10 Goals.


1. Improve safety to eliminate fatalities and serious injuries at our facilities. (If you are at a hospital, you might modify this goal to be: “Improve patient safety to eliminate sentinel events.” If you are responsible for equipment reliability you could say: “Improve equipment reliability to eliminate unexpected key equipment downtime.” If you are responsible for quality, you might say: “Improve quality before a major quality issue impacts a customer.”)

2. Improve management participation in improvement efforts.

3. Improve employee participation in improvement initiatives.

4. Motivate people to exhibit positive behaviors that result in success at work and at home.

5. Learn proven best practices from industry leaders that you can apply to your improvement initiatives to make them more effective.

6. Improve corrective actions so that problems never repeat once they are effectively investigated and fixes are implemented.

7. Learn how to stop “normalization of deviance” to ensure safety policies are effectively applied.

8. Develop proactive performance measures to better understand trends in safety, equipment reliability, and production performance.

9. Become a better TapRooT® User to continuously improve your root cause analysis initiatives.

10. Identify the gaps in improvement initiatives and find ways to turn those gaps into strengths in the future.

These top ten goals are rather safety oriented, but if you are responsible for equipment reliability, quality, production, patient safety, you can modify the goals with your improvement efforts in mind and the “safety” list can be converted into a patient safety list, an equipment reliability list, or a production efficiency list.

Now, see how many of these goals match those goals on your top 10 list…

Do you have some goals that you need to add to your list?

How are you doing this year meeting your goals?

Have you made enough progress in the first quarter so that you feel confident
that by the end of the year you will have accomplished all of these goals?

TapRooT® Training and the 2015 Global TapRooT® Summit can help you achieve all 10 of these goals. How? Read on …

GOAL 1.  Improve safety to eliminate fatalities and serious injuries at our facilities. (If you are at a hospital, you might modify this goal to be: “Improve patient safety to eliminate sentinel events.” If you are responsible for equipment reliability you could say: “Improve equipment reliability to eliminate unexpected key equipment downtime.” If you are responsible for quality, you might say: “Improve quality before a major quality issue impacts a customer.”)

Did you know that the best way to eliminate a problem is to become proactive in fixing problems? That means you must identify problems and fix them (using TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis) BEFORE an accident, sentinel event, equipment failure, quality issue, or production failure occurs.

How are you becoming more proactive? Here are several suggestions…

Proactive Improvement Suggestions

  • SAFETY: Did you know that there is a “Proactive Use of TapRooT®” Course? It was developed to teach people how to become more proactive by using TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis to find and fix the causes of problems before major accidents happen. If you are trying to be more proactive, this just might be the course for you. WARNING: There is only one public “Proactive Use of TapRooT®” Course scheduled for this year. It is on June 1-2 in Las Vegas during our PreSummit.
  • EQUIPMENT RELIABILITY: If you are interested in improving equipment reliability by the use of effective troubleshooting and root cause analysis tools AND you would like to use those tools proactively, I have a suggestion. First, if you haven’t already attended an Equifactor® Course, sign up for the one on June 1-2 in Las Vegas. These techniques come highly recommended and are based on a combination of the work done by equipment reliability expert Heinz Bloch and root cause analysis expert Mark Paradies. Then you can stay for the “Equipment Reliability Improvement and Troubleshooting” Track at the 2015 Global TapRooT® Summit where you will meet Heinz Bloch and Mark Paradies and hear the latest information about improving equipment performance.
  • PATIENT SAFETY: Improving patient safety has been a focus of the Global TapRooT® Summit since the late 1990s. This year we’ve combined a pre-Summit 2-Day “TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis for Sentinel Events & Healthcare Quality Improvement” Course with the “Improving Healthcare Quality and Patient Safety” Track at the Summit so that those who aren’t familiar with TapRooT® can learn the techniques and discover how to apply them proactively to improve patient safety.
  • QUALITY/OPERATIONS: If you would like to apply TapRooT® to improve quality or add it to your Lean/Six Sigma Program, then you should attend the pre-Summit TapRooT® Quality/Six Sigma/Lean Advanced Root Cause Analysis Training. Then attend the “Process Quality and Corrective Action Program” Track at the 2015 Global TapRooT® Summit. Lean/Six Sigma improvement efforts can be made even more effective (and more proactive) when effective root cause analysis (TapRooT®) is embedded into the program.
    • CLICK HERE to register for both the course and the track.

GOAL 2: Improve management participation in improvement efforts.  

Is your management involved in your improvement efforts as much as they should be? Many say that a lack of management support is one of the major problems they have when trying to improve performance.

One thing that improvement managers must realize is that it IS NOT management’s job to stay excited about an improvement program. It is the improvement program manager’s job to keep management excited and to let them know if they fail to show support for the improvement effort.

This is especially true because of the recent downturns in the oil and mining industries. Several people have told me that travel and training bans enacted because budget cutting efforts are devastating their efforts to benchmark improvements with others and learn new best practices to keep their program moving forward. When these “global bans” get in the way of making improvement progress happen, improvement managers have to point the problem out to management and let them know that this is sending a clear message that the improvement effort is clearly NOT a top priority and clearly falls behind profitability on the list of things management cares about.

Remind your managers that cutting back on improvement is actually expensive because of the costs of poor quality, accidents, equipment failures, and production upsets.

GOAL 3: Improve employee participation in improvement initiatives.

If your employees don’t seem to be involved in improvement efforts, maybe it is because you haven’t provided the opportunity.

Have you trained your employees to use advanced root cause analysis to solve problems and to use the same tools proactively?

If you need to get your employees fully committed to improving, give them the tools they need. Have an on-site TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis Course. Call us at 865-539-2139 or CLICK HERE to request more information about an on-site course.

GOAL 4: Motivate people to exhibit positive behaviors that result in success at work and at home.  

Motivating people is a difficult topic. Perhaps the best advice I’ve ever heard about motivating employees was a talk I heard from Dr. Beverly Chiodo. That’s why for the last decade I’ve had her speak at the Global TapRooT® Summit. And she is speaking again this year in two sessions. The first is the opening keynote talk on Thursday. Her talk is titled “Character Driven Success” and it is sure to make an impact on your life.

She will speak again on Thursday afternoon in a breakout session. Her talk for this session – Praising the 49 Character Traits – will give you practical ideas for changing behavior by properly praising your employees.

If behavior is important to your improvement efforts, don’t miss these two talks. Register for the 2015 Global TapRooT® Summit today.

GOAL 5: Learn proven best practices from industry leaders that can apply to improvement initiatives to make them more effective.  

How do you learn about new best practices from inside and outside your industry? Inside and outside your profession?

Two standard methods are:

  1. Industry/professional trade magazines.
  2. Industry/professional conferences.

There are some excellent conferences to consider in any industry/profession.

What I’ve found is that even at the best of these conferences, there tend to be industry or professional silos. For example:

  • Oil industry folks tend to learn best practices from the oil industry,
  • Nuclear industry folks learn from the nuclear industry
  • Aviation … aviation
  • Heathcare … healthcare
  • Manufacturing … manufacturing
  • Quality folks tend to meet and share best practices with quality folks,
  • Equipment reliability … equipment reliability
  • Safety … safety

And to make matters worse, we then tend to look inside our own geographic area/culture/language. US people attend conferences in North America. Europeans … Europe. Australians … Australia.

That’s why when we created the TapRooT® Summit we wanted to do something very different. We wanted to cross geographic, industrial, and professional boundaries.

And we wanted to create an environment where benchmarking and sharing experience is fun.

The feedback that we get after every Global TapRooT® Summit is that we’ve done a very good job of that.

For example, a process safety person from a chemical plant learns best practices from a licensing engineer in the nuclear industry. A healthcare quality improvement professional learns best practices from a flight safety professional. And a nuclear safety engineer learns things from an equipment reliability specialist from a foundry.

Not only do they learn, but they have a good time doing it!

That’s why I’ve had many TapRooT® Summit participants tell me that it is the BEST networking experience that they have ever experienced. Better than any industry conference that they go to.

Thus, if you haven’t yet met your goal of learning valuable best practices that you can implement to keep your improvement program fresh and progressing, you should consider attending the 2015 Global TapRooT® Summit. See all the track schedules at THIS LINK.

GOAL 6: Improve our corrective actions so that problems never repeat once they are effectively investigated and fixes are implemented.   

How is your CAPA program doing in preventing repeat incidents? If your goal is to improve, there are several ideas that I could suggest.

  1. Perform better root cause analysis. If you haven’t taken a TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis Course, take one SOON! See the course schedule by clicking on your region at THIS LINK.
  2. If you already use TapRooT® and want to improve your use of the technique, attend a 5-Day TapRooT® Advance Root Cause Analysis Team Leader Course. See the course details (which should convince you to attend) at this LINK.
  3. TapRooT® Users should also consider attending the 2015 Global TapRooT® Summit where there are several tracks that may be of interest including the Incident Investigation and Root Cause Analysis Best Practice Track, the Process Quality and Corrective Action Program Track, the Safety Improvement Track, and the Improving Healthcare Quality and Patient Safety Track.
  4.  There is actually a pre-Summit course  – Creative Corrective Actions Course – that is targeted toward people that want to develop better, more effective, corrective actions. See the details by CLICKING HERE.

At least one of those four ideas should help you jumpstart efforts to reach your goals in 2015/2016.

GOAL 7: Learn how to stop “normalization of deviance” to ensure safety policies are effectively applied.   

Mark Paradies is presenting a session titled “How to STOP the normalization of deviance” at the 2015 Global TapRooT® Summit in Las Vegas in the “Human Error Reduction & Behavior Change” Track. This particular talk is in Session 5. Be sure that you are there if you are interested in this topic and want to STOP the normalization of deviance.

GOAL 8: Develop proactive performance measures to better understand trends in safety, equipment reliability, and production performance.

This is another topic being covered at the 2015 Global TapRooT® Summit. Final details of this session are not yet posted on the Summit site because the talks are still being developed. But you can be sure that new, interesting, useful information on proactive performance indicators will be presented and that you will develop indicators for your facility.

GOAL 9: Become a better TapRooT® User to continuously improve your root cause analysis initiatives.

You can start your journey to performance improvement by simply attending a 2-Day TapRooT® Incident Investigation and Root Cause Analysis Course. But all TapRooT® Users know, this is just the start. Practice, coaching, and advanced training are part of the journey to becoming an expert root cause analysis investigator.

The 5-Day TapRooT® Advanced Root Cause Analysis Team Leader Training is designed to help you become a root cause analysis expert.

But what do you do to improve your skills after you have attended a 2-Day and 5-Day Course? There are several options.

First, every year we hold a Global Summit with Keynote Speakers and tracks to help you improve your performance improvement skills and learn the latest performance improvement best practices.

The 2015 Global TapRooT® Summit includes the following nine tracks:

  • Safety Improvement
  • Equipment Reliability & Troubleshooting
  • Human Error Reduction & Behavior Change
  • Improving Healthcare Quality & Patient Safety
  • Incident Investigation & Root Cause Analysis
  • Process Quality & Corrective Action Programs
  • TapRooT® Software
  • TapRooT® Certified Instructor
  • Special Topics

This is an excellent source of knowledge to improve your performance improvement skills. But beyond the knowledge you learn, you will also make great contacts – friends – across many industries and professional disciplines that can also help you expand your performance improvement network.

Second, before the Summit, we hold special advanced training for performance improvement experts to help them refresh and broaden their skills. At the 2015 pre-Summit, the following advanced courses will be offered that you can use to become a better root cause analysis expert:

That’s a great list of courses full of advanced knowledge to help you improve.

When and where are the pre-Summit Courses and the 2015 Global TapRooT® Summit? The courses and Summit will be held in Las Vegas on June 1-5, 2015. Register now to make sure that you get your first choice for training.

GOAL 10. Identify the gaps in our improvement initiatives and find ways to turn those gaps into strengths in the future.

Every TapRooT® Session Track at the 2015 Global TapRooT® Summit includes a session focused on identifying the gaps in your performance improvement program and developing ideas to improve your improvement efforts to eliminate the gaps. So, if you are interested in eliminating the holes in your improvement program, attend the 2015 Global TapRooT® Summit and make your improvement efforts sizzle with new best practices, new ideas, and lessons learned from industry leaders.

That’s it. Ten goals and the ways that TapRooT® Training and the TapRooT® Summit can help you meet those goals.

Don’t waste 2015 and 2016 standing still. Get your performance improvement program moving at the speed of light by getting the training and networking that you need to accelerate your program and your career.

Hydrocarbon Processing: “True cost of poor quality”

April 2nd, 2015 by

See the article by Heinz Bloch at:

And then attend the Equipment Reliability and Troubleshooting Track at the 2015 Global TapRooT® Summit and hear Heinz speak about the business end of equipment reliability and the foundations of Equifactor®. See the complete Summit schedule at:

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