November 12, 2005 | Mark Paradies

Summit History = Knowledge + Best Practices + Networking + Benchmarking + FUN!


Because the titles are similar, if you have never been to the TapRooT(R) Summit you might confuse it with the many excellent courses we sponsor each year. After all, what is the difference between a Summit and a course?

Although the Summit shares the TapRooT(R) 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.

Gatlinburg Sunrise

So in 1994 we held our first Summit in Gatlinburg, TN (with just 30 attendees).

It was a start.

And we learned … well, quite a lot.

Feedback was very favorable.

And we decided to do it again.

In 1995, we held the Summit in Orlando.


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

1996 – Nashville

Nashville 093-1

(We had a night at the Grand Ole Opry on Friday night after the Summit.)

1997 – San Antonio


(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


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

2000 – Gatlinburg

L:M Astronaut

(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!)


(Band at the reception.)

2002 – Gatlinburg


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

2003 – Dallas


(Linda at dinner with attendees on Thursday night.)

2005 – San Antonio


(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 (April 5-8)

— (Will you be in this picture?) —

Each year the Summit received rave reviews.

Each year we learned.

This each year the Summit got even better.

We kept the first focus – to spread state-of-the-art improvement knowledge.

We quickly added features to promote networking and benchmarking.

We even figured out ways to get people to willingly share best practices that helped them become industry leaders.

I’m lucky to have a great staff.

Becky keeps everything running like clockwork.

And all of the staff, led by Kat, knows how to throw a great party. So since the beginning, FUN has always been a part of the Summit.

Our first entertainment was a cookout on Saturday.

At the first Summit, I remember climbing a tree (at 9PM at night ) in the Cade’s Cove Campground while Becky tossed me a rope to put up a tarp just in case it rained (it did) during our completely self-catered Smoky Mountains cook out.

The next year, I remember coming back to my room in Orlando to find a bathtub full of beer/ice “cooling” for a later reception. (Note to self … don’t give staff room key next year in Gatlinburg).

Then there was the Louise Mandrel Show.


With Summit attendance growing, our self-catering had to change. But the FUN continued.

Mark Arm

(Mark gets carried away.)

Andy singing with the band.


(Andy gave Harley rides at one Summit.)

Michele winning every shootout.

Michele Gunslinger

(Yes – Sharon Stone couldn’t hold a candle to Michele!)

Becky, Kat, and Tish yelling from the balcony (can you say after hours relaxation).

Unnamed TapRooT(R) Users having way too much fun.


(Ed – … a pictures worth a thousand words…)

Great food, music, entertainment, …


(Linda and attendees on the Riverwalk barge dinner.)

Then in 2002 we discovered GOLF.


(Just prior to tee-off at first Summit Tournament.)

The first post Summit match was a foursome out for fun and practice.

But it gave me an idea … Golf Tournament!

Each team is lead by a TapRooT(R) Instructor. And each foursome takes a whack at the ball and then plays the best result (a true team sport!).

In 2003 in Dallas, Brian Locker’s team took home the TapRooT(R) Cup.

In 2005 in San Antonio, Brian’s ALL Canadian Team took the cup home again (but only after a tie and sudden death “pro’s choice” hole comparison!).

2006 promises to be a fun, hotly contested, and highly anticipated return to the links!

By the way, where did the the Summit name come from?

Well, the TapRooT(R) part is obvious.

We wanted TapRooT(R) Users who know the quality behind our courses to recognize the Summit as an extension to the quality they had become accustomed to.

But the Summit was not always called the Summit.

It was first called a conference.

But this name seemed way to plain for a meeting that was so different.

And it didn’t reflect the IMPACT that the ideas shared at the Summit could have on the attendees performance improvement efforts.

We fiddled with the name and had several “improvement” ideas. But nothing really seemed to fit.

Then in 2002, I was asked to participate in a meeting that was called a Summit.

After the meeting, I was reflecting on that meetings name (which they had taken from the meetings of Regan and Gorbechav) and how much more like a summit of performance improvement leaders our conference was and … blamo .. it hit me! We were having a summit of performance improvement leaders, most of which (but not all) were TapRooT(R) Users. We should call our meeting the TapRooT(R) Summit!

So know you know.

Our courses are very focussed on teaching root cause analysis.


But our Summit is a meeting of world leaders in performance improvement who are looking for:

– the latest state-of-the-art, yet proven, performance improvement technology and knowledge (to give them one up on their competition)

– benchmarking opportunities within and outside their industry (to see what everyone else is up to)

– networking opportunities inside and outside their industry (who knows when they will need a good contact?)

– best practices from a wide variety of industries from around the world (including healthcare, nuclear, petrochemical, utilities, aviation, …)

– FUN (Wednesday party, golf, name game, prizes every day, …)

Our final idea was to organize the Summit around breakout “TRACKS” so that it is easy to see how the various sessions can help TapRooT(R) Users improve performance.

These tracks are organized around various professional disciplines, improvement ideas, and one industry.

Each track is made up of a number of small group breakout sessions. This sessions are called “breakout sessions” for two reasons:

1. Because the Summit’s general sessions breaks into smaller sessions to discuss these topics. Thus people “break out” for these sessions.

2. Also, we design these sessions to provide critical ideas for improving performance. These ideas can help attendees breakout from practices holding back performance and break through to higher levels of performance.

Of the ten tracks that have been developed for the 2006 Summit, three are along the lines of professional activity:

Safety & Risk Management Best Practices (for Safety Professionals)

Quality Improvements Best Practices (for Quality Professionals)

Equipment Reliability & Maintenance Best Practices (for Equipment Reliability & Maintenance Professionals)

Next, four of the tracks are organized around a specific improvement focus:

Human Performance & Behavior Change Best Practices

Corrective Action Program Best Practices

Investigation Best Practices

Advanced Investigation Skills

Next, two of the tracks are organized around special skills for those who teach TapRooT(R) or administer the TapRooT(R) Software at their facility:

Certified TapRooT(R) Instructor Best Practices

TapRooT(R) Software Administrator

And finally, one track is designed just for people focused on performance improvement in the healthcare industry:

Medical Error Reduction Best Practices

And as we have done from the first Summit, attendees can always customize their Summit experience by picking from ANY track to get just vthe right mix of improvement ideas.

Enough about history. NOW is the time to start thinking of the future! Pick the track that best meets your performance improvement needs and get signed up!

Don’t miss this chance to revolutionize your improvement efforts…

Click here for Summit Info

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