September 16, 2009 | Mark Paradies

Mark’s Summit Tips


(Picture of the 2008 Summit General Session on Wednesday)

As the Summit General Chair and as someone who has attended every Summit since 1994, let me give you 10 helpful tips that will make your Summit experience more useful and enjoyable…

1. Be On-Time

If you have been to other conferences where things start late and run late, be prepared because we start ON-TIME and end ON-TIME.

Yes, that means that speakers are held to their time slots. (So speakers – take note!)
We also provide rewards to attendees who arrive on-time. The reward is a ticket to the drawing that will be held at the end of each day for an iPod.

So arrive early (7:30ish) each morning to eat some breakfast, have some coffee, and network before the 8 AM General Session starts on-time.


(Attendees eating breakfast)

Also, allow yourself 15 minutes extra on Wednesday to find your assigned seat (this is part of the networking plan).

And don’t plan to leave early any day … the prize drawings will be held at the end of the day and you must be present to win!

2. Stay for the Reception on Wednesday

The reception on Wednesday starts immediately after the last General Session where E.D. Hill will be speaking.

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(E.D. Hill)

The reception includes food and drinks, a book signing by E.D. Hill, exhibits by a variety of performance improvement experts who are presenting at the Summit, dancing to the band Entice, drawings for various prizes, presentation of Success Story Awards, and presentation of the best costume (man and woman) and best dancers.

So stay for the reception, meet new people, and you will still have time to go out on the town when the reception concludes (about 8:30).

(People having fun and networking at the Wednesday night Reception)
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3. Be Ready for Networking / Best Practice Sharing

First, make sure you bring a
plentiful supply of business cards.

Second, be ready for the name game by arriving early on Wednesday to find your seat and scope of the seats of those that you will be finding in the game.

Third, bring copies (perhaps electronically) of some of policies/practices that you think are worthy of being shared (there are several sessions at the Summit where his happens).

4. Go to an Industry Best Practice Sharing Session

Deviate from your track to attend one of the Industry Best Practice Sharing Sessions.

There are six of these sessions to choose from:

Wednesday 1:00pm – 2:20pm
Refining, Petrochemical/Chemicals, Pipelines, & Terminals Best Practices Sharing

Wednesday 1:00pm – 2:20pm
Utility, Nuclear Plant, & DOE Best Practices Sharing

Wednesday 2:40pm – 3:55pm
Oil Exploration & Production Sharing Best Practices Session

Thursday 9:15am – 10:25am
Pharmaceutical, Food, and Manufacturing Best Practices Sharing

Thursday 1:00pm – 2:20pm
Transportation (Aviation, Rail, Mass Transit, & Shipping) Best Practices Sharing

Friday 9:15am – 10:25am
Mining Best Practice Sharing

These are some of the best sessions to make new friends/contacts in your industry.

5. Customize Your Summit Experience by Going to a Session that Expands Your Horizons

You should pick a session outside your track that is completely different than the things you do now.

For example, someone who is attending the Eliminating Sentinel Events Track might pick a session in the Equipment Reliability Track given by Heinz Bloch.


Because attending something completely new will expand your horizons.

Give it a try and see what you learn.

6. Play Golf on Friday

Stay to play golf on Friday afternoon.

If you like playing golf, this isn’t a tough decision. We are playing on a great course and you will have a great bunch of people to play with (other Summit participants including a TapRooT® Instructor on every team).

What if you don’t play golf?

Start at the Summit.

You can rent clubs and you’ll have great fun. Plus you will discover that no one plays as good as Tiger Woods.

But sign up NOW.

I’m putting the teams together this week so I need you to use this link to register today:

What if you have already made your travel plans? CHANGE THEM!

You need some fun networking in your life and this is a great chance to develop new friends and have a good time getting some exercise outdoors.

(Tournament winners in 2008)


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(People having fun playing golf at previous Summit Tournaments)

7. Go to a Pre-Summit Course

If you’ve already signed up for a pre-Summit course, you should pat yourself on the back.

If you have not already signed up, this is another item that is worth changing your travel plans to take advantage of.

We are offering 11 special courses prior to the Summit. They are:

  • TapRooT® Incident Investigation & Root Cause Analysis Course
  • TapRooT®/Equifactor® Equipment Troubleshooting and Root Cause Analysis*
  • 2-Day Advanced TapRooT® Techniques*
  • Improving Your Organization’s Safety Culture*
  • Advanced Trending Techniques*
  • How to Interview & Gather Evidence*
  • Stopping Human Error*
  • Innovation & Creative Solutions*
  • Risk Analysis and Risk Management Best Practices*
  • Hazard Recognition Best Practices*
  • Getting the Most from Your TapRooT® Software*

Most of these courses (those with a *) are only offered prior to the Summit.

Summit attendees get a $200 discount off the course price.

So call our office at 865-539-2139 to add one of these courses to your Summit package.

(Attendees at a Pre-Summit Course)

8. Bring a Laptop and a Memory Stick

I always travel with mine and you’ll find it useful in trading electronic best practices at the Summit.

9. What to Wear

We suggest “smart casual” attire for the Summit. If you want to wear a coat and tie, you will blend in with the TapRooT® Instructors. If you wear blue jeans and a t-shirt, you won’t feel out of place. Of course, TapRooT® Polo Shirts are always in fashion! So, plan to show of your TapRooT® attire!

Remember, if you easily get chilled, bring a light coat. Conference rooms are notoriously drafty and we try to keep the room temperature on the cool side.

Weather in Nashville in early October?

Expect warm and pleasant days and nights. I would expect highs in the 70’s and lows in the 50’s. October is one of the driest months in central and east Tennessee but there could be a rainy day (although I have put in a request for dry weather on Friday).

The Wednesday night Reception has a prize for the best 70’s outfit (for both men and women). Use your imagination and have some fun. If you can’t come up with anything too wild, I seem to remember blue jeans being very popular back in the 70s (but then again, so were leisure suits, hot pants, and pant suits).

For golf, bring pants or shorts and a shirt with a collar (polo shirt is fine). Even though I’ve requested a nice sunny day, watch out for rain. (We have never had rain for a Summit golf tournament, but it is always possible.)

10. Leave Extra Room in Your Suitcase

We do not kill trees by handing out copies of presentations at the Summit.

We encourage authors to provide their presentations before the Summit and we will post them on the Root Cause Analysis Blog:
so you can download them and put them on your laptop.

If they aren’t posted before the Summit (some speakers are slow), we will try to post them after the Summit.

But why do you need to leave room in your suitcase?

First, for your new TapRooT® Polo Shirt that you will win during the Name Game.

Second, for the large quantity of notes that you will take and business cards that you will collect.

MarkParadiesTeaching.jpg Third, for the shopping you will do when you are out on Thursday night.

Fourth, for the two signed books you receive from the Keynote Speakers.

And finally, for your golf trophy (I’m sure that your team is planning to win) and other prizes at the prize drawings that will be held every day.

That’s my 10 tips for Summit attendees.

Looking forward to seeing you there.

Best Regards,

General Chair TapRooT® Summit

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