Mark Paradies, President

Mark Paradies

Mark Paradies is a founder of System Improvements.

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 Master’s Degree in Nuclear Engineering. Mark was the 85th person to achieve certification as a Certified Professional Ergonomist (Human Factors) 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® RCA. He incorporated advanced human performance technology into the TapRooT® System, without complicated Ph.D. jargon, so that managers, supervisors, engineers, and shop floor personnel can effectively solve problems.

With the development of TapRooT® RCA, Mark and TapRooT® RCA 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 blog posts.


Linda Unger, Vice President

Linda Unger is a Founder of System Improvements.

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. Attend the annual Global TapRooT® Summit, meet and hear Linda speak, and get a bird’s-eye view of why the 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.


Ken Reed, Vice President

Ken Reed’s expertise covers a wide range of topics, with a particular emphasis on equipment failure analysis and high-reliability operations. Ken’s 21 years in Admiral Rickover’s Nuclear Navy (serving on board fast attack, ballistic missile, and research submarines) help 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 instructor certification, working with over 60 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 and his Ford Raptor.

Connect with Ken or read his blog posts.


Dan Verlinde, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer

Dan Verlinde
Dan Verlinde joined System Improvements 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, 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 System Improvements.

Connect with Dan.


Amy Souders, Director of Licensing

Amy Souders brings over 20 years of experience in the private business sector before joining System Improvements in 2022. Her experience includes corporate management as a Vice President, team-building, and strategic initiative implementation. Amy has a B.S. in Business Administration from the College of Charleston.

At System Improvements, Amy is an instructor, manages licensing of the TapRooT® Software, and helps clients develop and implement Roadmaps to Success.

Connect with Amy on LinkedIn.


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 healthcare systems 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® RCA 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.

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 of his whole family.

Connect with Marcus or read his blog posts.


Barbara Carr, Editorial Director & Instructor

Barb Carr joined System Improvements in 2006 and is the Editorial Director and a TapRooT® Instructor. She plays a major role in the development of all of the current evidence collection TapRooT® Training (in-person, virtual, and self-guided) and is the co-author with Mark Paradies of the TapRooT® Evidence Collection and Interviewing Techniques to Sharpen Investigation Skills Book (2017). She also developed the TapRooT® Training Pathways.

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

Barb enjoys all genres of music, the great outdoors, and traveling around the world.

Connect with Barb or read her blog posts.


Tim diggs, strategic advisor & INSTRUCTOR

As a 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 has used TapRooT® since 1996 as a methodology to solve productivity and quality problems and joined the System Improvements in 2019. He feels excited to be “entrusted with teaching TapRooT® RCA and carrying it forward.” Before joining System Improvements, he worked for 23 years in the transportation industry developing new processes, evaluating and improving existing operational 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 blog posts.


alexander paradies, Director of Projects and Innovation & Instructor

Alex Paradies helps clients learn how to maximize TapRooT® RCA 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 is responsible for the development and improvement of TapRooT® Training and working with clients to develop Roadmaps to Success.

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, reliability intern at Novelis, and an undergraduate researcher. He has a B.S. in Material Science & Engineering, as well as a minor in Business Administration from the University of Tennessee. He also completed human factors training at the University of Michigan. 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 blog posts.


Justin Clark, Strategic Advisor & Instructor

Justin Clark draws on 10 years of experience as a US Navy Nuclear Submarine Officer. He runs the Equifactor® Equipment Troubleshooting development and training, leveraging extensive leadership and management from equipment and systems operations, reliability, and maintenance. He is also a TapRooT® Instructor and helps clients develop Roadmaps to Success.

He holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Kansas State University and resides with his family in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Connect with Justin or read his blog posts.