January 17, 2013 | Mark Paradies

TapRooT® Summit History


In the late 1980s and early 1990s, there were many professional society conferences focused on safety, quality, and engineering topics. But there wasn’t a conference focused on incident investigation, root cause analysis, and performance improvement that crossed technical and industry boundaries.

Beyond that, many conferences focused on research and PhD discussions (valuable discussions for those interested in research) but failed to make the link to practical application of knowledge to industrial settings – oil refineries, hospitals, aviation, oil E&P, nuclear plants, high tech manufacturing facilities, shipping, pipelines, mining, rail and light rail, chemical plants, and electricity transmission and distribution.

Therefore, we decided to put together a one of a kind meeting where people could share experience, learn to apply the latest research, and meet in small groups with leading industry experts and share information and ideas across industry and organizational boundaries.

And even for the very first Summit, we wanted to have international participants to get as broad a perspective as possible.

Even though we didn’t have a not-for-profit society to organize, publicize, and pay for a meeting, we decided to go ahead and sponsor the meeting ourselves. Because our clients needed the knowledge, the best practices, the learning.

That need for learning practical improvement knowledge by our clients was the reason we organized the first Summit.


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Our first Keynote Speaker was Dr. Charles O. Hopkins who spoke on human factors and human error.

It was before digital photos and videos so we don’t have a visible record of the lessons that were learned. But after it was over … we knew that we had to do it again.


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Disney was a great place to hold the Summit. And with more than twice as many people attending, we started to invent ways to maximize the networking.

Our focus of this Summit was lessons learned from the nuclear industry that could be applied to other industries.

Orlando was also the first Summit to include a pre-Summit TapRooT® Course (our standard 2-Day). And we had an excellent mix of Keynote Speakers and Best Practice Sessions.


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Our third summit institutionalized the idea of a social activity. This time we chose the Grand Ole Opry.

Again, the number of people attending grew which meant more and better networking.

And 1996 was the first Summit with a session dedicated to learning from medical errors at hospitals (certainly an idea ahead of its time).


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The was the first Texas Summit. With more participants there was more networking, great speakers, and our first reception/party on Wednesday night.

We also added “special” pre-Summit courses (additional topics beyond our 2-Day TapRooT® Course) that could help TapRooT® Users expand their knowledge of performance improvement technology.


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The Southfork Ranch hosted the 1998 Summit. A JR look alike attended the Summit party (that included a tour of JR’s “mansion”). Everyone had a great time.

This Summit was also the start of TapRooT® Users presenting Success Stories. A great way to share best practices.

Because we hold the Summit every 14-16 months, after the 1998 Summit in November, we skipped 1999 and the next Summit was held in March of 2000.


Remember the Y2K scare? Well, we all made it through it and had the 2000 Summit.

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That’s Mark and Linda with Shuttle Astronaut Mike Mullane in the picture above. Mike was our Friday keynote speaker. He explained the first Shuttle disaster and how Summit attendees could achieve operational excellence.

It snowed on Wednesday night of the Summit but the snow was gone and we had temperatures in the 60’s by Thursday afternoon.

The great keynote speakers and best practice sessions gave attendees plenty to talk about – this had to be the best networking I’d observed at a Summit so far. This helped us get new ideas to improve the networking even more in future Summits.


This was the Summit that almost didn’t happen. Two days before the Summit, a Tropical Storm dropped 2 feet of rain on Houston and Galveston!

Lesson learned: Don’t hold the Summit on the Gulf coast in late June! But the Summit went on with many international participants arriving at a flooded airport.

By 2001, our pre-Summit courses had grown to 9 to choose from and the pre-Summit Course participants equaled the Summit participants.

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At the Summit, we had great keynote speakers. That’s Mark and Ed with one of the keynote speakers. We also had Dr. John Grout talk about how mistake proofing (Poka-Yoke) fit into an improvement program.

Besides great keynote speakers, we had even more best practice tracks and great networking.


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That’s Mark in the picture above welcoming participants to the 8th TapRooT® Summit (still called the TapRooT® Conference in 2002).

Participants (pictured below) enjoyed the great speakers including speakers from the NTSB and Tennessee OSHA…


Participants feedback was that it couldn’t get any better. But it did!


We liked the Southfork Ranch so much that we went back in 2003.

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Of course, there were great keynote speakers.


And who is that explaining the “new” software in the picture above? Ed!

And that’s Linda networking with TapRooT® users in the pictures below.

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This was the first TapRooT® Summit to include a golf tournament – something that has become a fixture of Friday afternoon at the Summit and a part of the great networking that every Summit includes. (That’s Ed’s team below getting ready to tee off.)


We also had the first TapRooT® Advisory Board Dinner (Linda with TapRooT® Advisory Board members pictured below).

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And of course, another great Wednesday reception/party!

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2005 saw us in San Antonio at a hotel on the River Walk.

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Wow! What amazing keynote speakers, networking, and best practice sharing. The Summit that couldn’t get better hit a new high. (Don’t tell Mark Paradies that it can’t be done.)

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Above, the participants listening to the story of Scott Waddle, 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. Powerful! Scott is now a contract TapRooT® Instructor passing along information to help others avoid accidents.

The Advisory Board went on a River Walk cruise.

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And the golf tournament was held at The Quarry Golf Club.

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The Smoky Mountains in the early spring…

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The leaves just starting to bud (just like the Summit this year).

By participant feedback, this was the best Summit so far. Each year people say it can’t get any better. But each year we build upon the successes of the past while adding new ideas to improve the best practice sharing and networking.

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(Panel Discussion – That’s Ken Turnbull at the mic)

Look at the networking and best practice sharing …

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And this was the first Summit Golf Tournament won by someone besides a Canadian team. Ken Turnbull’s team was victorious. (And 10 minutes after the photo below was taken … it started pouring down rain.)

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Once again, great speakers, networking, best practice sharing, and fun! Our keynote speakers included a Fox News personality and an Olympic gold medal winner. And our participant numbers rose above 200.

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By now, the Summit is a well-oiled networking/benchmarking/best practice sharing machine!

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One of the favorite Summit sessions is the TapRooT® User Share Root Cause Best Practices session facilitated by Linda Unger and Michele Lindsay (Michele in the background of the picture above).

Plus there were lots of other great session to learn advanced performance improvement ideas and great sessions to network and benchmark with people from around the world (the Summit really is an international event).

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Again, we had a great reception with a Wild West theme.


And how about the golf? The Canadians won again! That’s Brian Locker holding the coveted TapRooT® Cup in the picture below.

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This Summit marked the 20th Anniversary of System Improvements.

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And was the biggest Summit ever. The reception theme was Elvis and showgirls and 60’s attire.

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As usual, the Summit week started with the pre-Summit courses …

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Again we had great Keynote Speakers including one of the operators who was on duty at Three Mile Island during the early morning accident…

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We played golf in 100 + degree Fahrenheit heat. But the Canadian team still won! That’s Brian Locker and Brian Tink accepting the TapRooT® Cup in the picture below.


This was the first Summit tournament held as a charity function for a good cause.


The 2009 Summit was held in the midst of the Great Recession. Still 221 people showed up to learn the latest performance improvement technology.maybe because we had (as usual) amazing Keynote Speakers …

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And the networking and benchmarking were the best ever! Maybe you can tell from these pictures …


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And what a reception/party on Wednesday night!

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(Yes- that’s Ken Reed Dancing – Who Knew?)

And the TapRooT® Advisory Board Meeting/Dinner is now a Summit tradition…


The TapRooT® Summit Charity Golf Tournament was almost rained out.


But Mark Paradies’ team won (beating the Canadians)!

(That’s us soaking wet)

And the charity tournament raised $2,700 for an abused women’s shelter.

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(That’s Benna of SI presenting the check to Janice Wilson, head of the shelter.)


Once again, amazing keynote speakers that included the co-pilot of the “Miracle on the Hudson” flight…

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And great best practice sessions with networking and benchmarking for all…


The reception was a Halloween costume party …

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We held a River Walk dinner cruise after the TapRooT® Advisory Board Meeting on Thursday…

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The TapRooT® Summit Charity Golf Tournament was held at The Quarry Golf Club …

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And this time it was Linda’s team that won!

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And a record amount was raised for charity.

The late October Summit meant that we skipped having a Summit in 2011. So the next Summit week is scheduled for February 27 – March 2, 2012, in Las Vegas.


The largest TapRooT® Summit ever was in Vegas in 2012.

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Our keynote speakers included Astronaut Ken Mattingly and Aguilar Sáez René Alejandro – Second in command of the rescue of the 33 miners that were trapped deep in a mine in Chile.

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Beyond the great keynote speakers, we had nine Best Practice Tracks where TapRooT® Users and industry experts shared the latest improvement technology and promote networking across industries and professions.

Some of the breakout sessions are large …


And some are smaller …

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But in all of the breakout sessions, people share knowledge and best practices that are practical. Things that can be put to work when you get back to work.

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Everybody told me they loved the Wednesday night reception (so we are scheduling one similar to it for the Summit this year in Gatlinburg).

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And the Advisory Board Dinner at the Vodou Steak House & Lounge was great!

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And what about the charity golf tournament? Ed’s team won!

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And, more importantly, we raised a record $5,500 for the Oasis of Love Women’s Shelter!


The 2013 Global Summit in Gatlinburg looks like another amazing event.

On Wednesday, we start with a roster of amazing Keynote Speakers, including …

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Carl Dixon, Canadian rock star, talking about his near death accident and recovery and playing us a few tunes at the Wednesday reception.

And Ken Futch, telling his amazing story about his accident that will having you rolling in the isles while being inspired.

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Then on Thursday, I talk about the controversy around the Accident Pyramid and a different way to look at the pyramid to design your performance improvement program.

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And Efrain Salazar from United Technologies explains how good management can be measured by safety performance.

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Later that day, Chris Jerry and Eric Cropp speak about a fatal hospital (pharmaceutical) error and that blame is NOT the answer.

Then on Friday you don’t want to miss the first winner of the TV show “The Apprentice” – Bill Rancic as he talks about lessons to build success (so plan to fly back on Saturday).

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But the keynote Speakers are only the frosting on the cake. The real heart of the Summit are the breakouts … the Best Practice Tracks. This year there are 10:

Certified TapRooT® Instructor

Improving Healthcare Quality & Patient Safety

Human Performance & Behavior Change

Incident Investigation & Root Cause Analysis

Major Accident Prevention

Improving Quality and Corrective Action Programs

Safety & Risk Management

Special Topics

Equipment Troubleshooting & Reliability

TapRooT® Software Super Users/Administrators

See the Summit schedule for details of each track.


Just click on the appropriate button for that track’s details.

What else should you expect at the 2013 Global TapRooT® Summit week?


The week starts with 11 special pre-Summit Courses:

2-Day TapRooT® Incident Investigation & Root Cause Analysis Course

Special 2-Day Equifactor® Equipment Troubleshooting and Root Cause Analysis

Advanced TapRooT® Techniques

Advanced Trending

Analyzing and Fixing Safety Culture Issues

Best Practices for Reducing Serious Injuries and Fatalities Using TapRooT®

Risk Management Best Practices

Preventing Slips, Trips, and Falls

TapRooT® Evidence Collection Course

TapRooT® Quality/Six Sigma/Lean Advanced Root Cause Analysis Training

Getting the Most from Your TapRooT® Software

Choose the one that will help you the most at work!. For more information about the courses, see:


Register early because these courses will fill up and you want to get your first choice.

Next is great networking…


We’ve learned how to make networking and benchmarking fun! You will leave the 2013 Global TapRoot® Summit with new friends that can help you improve performance at your site. Watch these Summit participants talk about their networking experience…


But there’s MORE!

More than great speakers, networking, and benchmarking?

Yes! There are two more events that you should plan to participate in …

First is the Wednesday reception.

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This is an informal way to meet people in a friendly environment. There will be food, drinks, and exhibits by performance improvement experts. And to make the reception even better, IT IS FREE! So, plan to be there.

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(10th tee at the Gatlinburg Golf Course)

The SECOND event you shouldn’t miss is the Friday TapRooT® Summit Charity Golf Tournament at the Gatlinburg Golf Club.

Some people think you have to be a pro to participate in a golf tournament. But our tournament is a fun tournament for charity.

The format is called a Scramble. (See the rules HERE.) That means that each player takes a shot and the team then plays from the best of the shots. That means that everybody on the team has a chance to contribute and have fun.

Also, this is a great format to get to know your team mates and make new friends.

Want to see what it looks like? Here’s a fun video from the last tournament we held in Vegas (at a different course).

For more details about the tournament, see:


Don’t sit by and let Summit history happen without you. Get registered for the 2013 Global TapRooT® Summit by CLICKING HERE and make history happen!

You can:

  • Hear best practices that can help your company improve performance
  • Benchmark your practices against some of the best companies in the world.
  • Discover ideas that could save people’s lives and keep your company out of trouble.
  • Meet new friends who are leaders in performance improvement.
    This isn’t idle banter. You can and will learn lessons that could change history because the Summit is that good.

    See you there.

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