February 23, 2007 |

History of Performance Improvement – That’s the TapRooT® Summit!

If you’ve ever wondered how we started holding the TapRooT® Summit, what the Summit is, or why you might want to attend, read this blog entry…


You might confuse the TapRooT® Summit with the many excellent courses we sponsor each year. After all, what is the difference between a Summit and a course?

 Blog Session5

Although the Summit shares the TapRooT® name with the courses, the focus of the Summit is quite different. So perhaps a quick Summit history lesson will show you the difference between the Summit and our great root cause analysis courses.

I organized the first Summit in 1993 (to be held in 1994) because, after attending, and even helping organize, many conferences over the years, I saw a need for a conference with a focus on performance improvement, human factors, incident investigation, and the latest improvement technology. A conference that was NOT oriented to research (although I appreciate good research). A meeting oriented toward practical applications that could be implemented at industrial facilities and in service organizations.

Wow! That’s a mouthful!

I also saw that there was MUCH to be gained by sharing information and ideas ACROSS INDUSTRY BOUNDARIES.

Thus this summit could not be held by one professional organization (with only a safety, quality, or equipment focus) or by a society oriented toward one industry (nuclear, refining, healthcare, aviation, pharmaceuticals, semiconductors, utilities, mining, shipping, oil exploration, …). And it had to be international — as most companies were expanding to worldwide operations.

This was a problem.

I had to start from scratch to organize, publicize, and pay for a meeting that needed to be held, but didn’t have an already established audience nor did I have a conference staff.

Some said I was nuts!

But I knew it needed to be done. And nobody else was going to do it. So I become a conference organizer.

So in 1994 we held our first Summit in Gatlinburg, TN (with just 30 attendees).
 Blog Gatlinburg Sunrise
It was a start. We learned quite a lot.

Feedback was very favorable.

And we decided to do it again.

In 1995, we held the Summit in Orlando. Attendance … zoomed up to 72.

 Blog Orlando
(We went to Disney on Saturday after the Summit.)

1996 – Nashville – 85 attendees.

 Blog Nashville-093-1
(We had a night at the Grand Ole Opry.)

1997 – San Antonio – 105 attendees and growing strong.

 Blog Dscn0284
(San Antonio Riverwalk at night.)

After San Antonio in 1997, we decided to make the schedule about every 15 months to rotate the seasons. So our schedule would shift and occasionally “skip” a year. Thus Dallas was in the Fall of 1998, but we skipped 1999.)

1998 – Dallas – 119 attendees and still growing.

 Blog Jr
(We had a JR look-a-like. He didn’t look like the picture above. More like JR after a binge!)

2000 – Gatlinburg – 125 attendees.
(Linda and Mark with our keynote speaker – a Shuttle Astronaut that discussed the first Shuttle disaster.)

2001 – Galveston (a Tropical Storm in June and 2 feet of rain!) – 133 attendees.

 Blog Mexicanband
(Band at the reception.)

2002 – Gatlinburg – 140 attendees.

 Blog Mark01
(Mark and some of the audience at opening talk.)

2003 – Dallas – 155 attendees.

 Blog Dinner
(Linda at dinner with attendees on Thursday night.)

2005 – San Antonio – 169 attendees.

 Blog Dscn0748
(Audience listening to the start of Scott Waddle’s talk. He was the CO of the submarine USS Greeneville when it collided with the Emime Maru (a Japanese fishing vessel). Most of the audience was in tears by the end of his talk – it was quite powerful.)

2006 – Gatlinburg, TN – 175 attendees.

 Blog Paneldiscupclose
 Blog Paneldisc
(Panel Discussion – two different views)

What about 2007???

We are going back to San Antonio, Texas!

The Summit will be held on April 25-27, 2007.


The location? The Crowne Plaza on the Riverwalk.

 Blog  Hotelmedia Repository Hotelimages Satps Welcm Extr 01 C
And we expect about 200 attendees!

We have some great Keynote Speakers:



And some very informative best practice tracks on the following topics:

Investigation & Root Cause Analysis
Lean/Process/Quality Improvement
Maintenance/Equipment Reliability
Human Error/Changing Behavior
Safety & Risk Management
Corrective Action Program
Medical Error Reduction
Proactive Improvement
TapRooT® Software Techniques
TapRooT® Instructor Certification

For complete details, see the Summit web site home page at:


PS: We are holding the Summit during Fiesta Week in San Antonio. This will mean that last minute hotel space will be tight. So register for your hotel room NOW!

See: http://www.taproot.com/courses.php?d=157&l=1 for hotel info.

Show Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *