Mark Paradies, President

Mark Paradies brings knowledge of human factors, equipment reliability, and high-reliability organizations to the field of root cause analysis. After receiving a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois, Mark served in Admiral Rickover’s Nuclear Navy where he received NAVSEA 08’s Engineer Certification; learned Rickover’s equipment reliability best practices, and participated in Rickover’s culture of operational excellence. Mark then studied Human Factors at the University of Illinois while completing a Masters Degree in Nuclear Engineering. Mark was the 85th person to achieve certification as a Certified Professional Ergonomist by the BPCE.

Mark brought this knowledge of operation excellence, human factors, and equipment reliability to the development of effective root cause analysis practices while working at Du Pont. His work there led him to start System Improvements and bring advanced root cause analysis concepts to the world.

Mark’s understanding of human factor concepts is foundational to TapRooT®. He incorporated advanced human performance technology into TapRooT®, without complicated Ph.D. jargon, so that managers, supervisors, engineers, and shop floor personnel can effectively solve problems.

With the development of TapRooT®, Mark and TapRooT® co-developer Linda Unger have changed the way the world solves problems through advanced root cause analysis tools, training, and software, assisting in designing and improving performance improvement programs, and in investigating the root causes of accidents, sentinel events, equipment failures, and quality issues. Mark has taught thousands of students around the world in a variety of industries, including: oil exploration and production, refining chemicals, plastics, and petrochemicals; mining, metals, and fertilizer; utilities, airlines, shipping, railroads, and light rail; pharmaceutical and consumer products; and manufacturing, telecommunications, network reliability, and government.

Connect with Mark or read his blogs.


Linda Unger, Vice President

Linda Unger, co-developer of the TapRooT® System, has a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Tennessee and Human Factors training from the University of Michigan. She gained experience investigating incidents as a field engineer at Du Pont. She then joined System Improvements to create the TapRooT® System and change the way the world solves problems. Linda is the co-author of the TapRooT® Books.

Linda is known as the heart of TapRooT® for her ability to listen, communicate and create connections at every level. Currently, Linda helps clients use TapRooT® as part of their performance improvement program by developing client road maps for the implementation of the TapRooT® System, Training, and Software.

Attend the annual Global TapRooT® Summit, meet and hear Linda speak, and get a bird’s-eye view of why Summit is so spectacular—from its kickoff session to the Reception. As Linda says, “Be ready to meet industry leaders and share best practices to achieve operational excellence!”

Connect with Linda or read her blogs.


Ken Reed, Vice President

Ken Reed’s expertise covers a wide range of topics, with a particular emphasis on equipment failure analysis and troubleshooting. Ken’s 21 years in Admiral Rickover’s Nuclear Navy (serving on board fast attack, ballistic missile, and research submarines) helps him understand the secrets of achieving high-reliability operation and exceptional equipment reliability. Ken has a B.S. in Electronics Management from Southern Illinois University.

At System Improvements, Ken is responsible for the development of TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis and Equifactor® Equipment Troubleshooting Training. Also, Ken manages instructor certification and course quality control, working with over 50 instructors worldwide.

Ken has also trained thousands of people around the world to use the TapRooT® System to analyze safety, quality, equipment failure, and environmental incidents. As a TapRooT® Expert, Ken has worked with numerous companies to analyze their safety and equipment reliability improvement needs and develop road maps to achieve excellence.

Ken enjoys traveling to interesting destinations with his wife, Debbie and spending time with his family. He is an automobile enthusiast and has a special affinity for his Ford Mustangs (including a 1967 model) and his Ford Raptor.

Connect with Ken or read his blogs.


Dan Verlinde, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer
Dan Verlinde joined TapRooT® in 2006. Prior to that, Dan was a business systems analyst for an international third-party certification company where he oversaw the implementation, development, and support of business software used for performing audits to international standards. Along with his education at the University of Michigan, Dan has had formal training in SQL, Crystal, Software Administration, Human Factors, and Lean principles.

Dan brings his expertise to TapRooT® Software development, the TapRooT® Blog, as well as to being a TapRooT® Instructor. Dan oversees the development and technical support of the TapRooT® Software, as well as leading the support of all IT operations at TapRooT®.

Connect with Dan or read his blogs.


Marcus Miller, Vice President of Business Development

Marcus Miller is a TapRooT® Instructor® teaching a wide range of industries to apply root cause analysis both reactively and proactively. He leads System Improvements efforts to bring advanced root cause analysis to the healthcare industry including developing the TapRooT® Patient Safety Root Cause Analysis Training and working with the US Military Healthcare System to implement TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis.

Marcus has a strong background in both operations and business development. He served as the VP of Operations in the healthcare industry and has extensive training in client/employee engagement and management/leadership philosophies. Marcus helps clients design plans to improve performance by implementing TapRooT® as part of continuous improvement programs. He is passionate about client success and building partnerships that exceed goals and achieve lasting financial and operational success.

Marcus has a B.S. in Athletic Training from Lincoln Memorial University and is a licensed Physical Therapist Assistant. Marcus also has received training in Human Factors from the University of Michigan. Marcus is an active member of Vistage, a global leader in the growth and development of business leaders.

He loves to travel with his wife, two kids, extended family, and friends to enjoy experiences that will create long-lasting memories. Soccer, tennis, and volleyball are passions for his whole family.

Connect with Marcus or read his blogs.


Barbara Carr, Editorial Director & Instructor

Barb Carr joined TapRooT® in 2006. She is responsible for the continuous development of TapRooT® Evidence Collection and Investigative Interviewing Training. She is the co-author of TapRooT® Evidence Collection and Interviewing Techniques to Sharpen Investigation Skills (2017). She is committed to helping students, “delve deeper into problems and base their analysis on facts.”

Barb has an extensive background in legal and trained with the National Forensic Science Technology Center. She completed human factors training at the University of Michigan. Barb has a B.S. in Psychology and is a Certified Professional Coach.

Barb spends her free time teaching yoga, boating, hiking to waterfalls in the mountains of East Tennessee and volunteering at the Knoxville Museum of Art.

Connect with Barb or read her blogs.


Tim diggs, strategic advisor & INSTRUCTOR

As strategic advisor, Tim Diggs empowers his clients to move forward effectively with his contagious “going above and beyond” attitude. As an instructor, he skillfully builds camaraderie in the classroom to create an impactful learning environment.

Tim joined the company in 2019 and has used TapRooT® since 1996 as a methodology to solve productivity and quality problems. He feels excited to be “entrusted with representing TapRooT® and carrying it forward.” He devoted 23 years in the transportation industry evaluating and improving existing operational processes, developing new processes, deploying new systems and delivering training to operations personnel. Tim has a B.A. in Economics and a minor in Business Management from the University of Tennessee.

Tim enjoys adventures with family and friends including everything outdoors as well as football, baseball, and bowling.

Connect with Tim or read his blogs.


alexander paradies, Strategic Advisor & Instructor

Alex Paradies helps clients learn how to maximize TapRooT® as an investigative and predictive methodology. As an instructor, he looks forward to “meeting and working with new experts and different industries.” Alex came on board full-time in 2019 but is no stranger to TapRooT®. It’s no coincidence that he shares the last name of the co-developer of TapRooT®, Mark Paradies – he has grown up in the business and is excited about the next generation of TapRooT®.

He brings with him over six years of experience at The Timken Company where he skillfully managed over 100 workers in a competitive job shop environment. His background also includes experience as an Industrial Engineering Manager, Sr Lean Engineer, a reliability intern at Novelis and undergraduate researcher. He has a B.S. in Material Science & Engineering, as well as a minor in Business Administration from the University of Tennessee. His sights are set “firmly on safety – bringing continuous improvement to manufacturing, logistics, operations, and quality.”

Alex enjoys hiking and backpacking. “There is nothing more peaceful than sitting on the top of the mountain in the morning watching the fog lift from the valley below.”

Connect with Alex or read his blogs.


stephanie tipton, strategic advisor & instructor

As a life-long traveler, Stephanie Tipton enjoys the role of strategic advisor because she has an opportunity to develop a wider world view by “meeting people from around the globe and learning about new cultures.” As an experienced trainer, she enjoys teaching how TapRooT® is a robust methodology that works across every industry.

Stephanie brings seven years of healthcare experience and a passion for “helping clients find the preventative side of healthcare.” Her experience includes working with OSHA and other regulators, safety training, and ergonomic audits. She has a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Business Administration from the University of Tennessee.

Stephanie is devoted to community service and serves on the Board of Directors and President-elect for Kiwanis International. She and her husband are boaters and hope to do the Great Loop in the future. They also enjoy camping fishing and hiking with their two children.

Connect with Stephanie or read her blogs.