2009 is finally over.

In 2008, as the financial crisis was beginning, I remember thinking that it was going to be an amazing learning experience working at a financial institution through an economic crash.

Well, it turns out I was right.

The last eighteen months or so have been challenging, fascinating, frustrating and highly educational. I have been able to make progress on some amazing initiatives that perhaps I otherwise might not have, and watched others slow down to a crawl. I have learned a lot about my own abilities and limitations as well as my sense of intuition and common sense.

And then, just in the last couple of months, things have begun to shift. Things are getting clearer and easier. It’s very much like a fog has been lifted, and I can see the horizon again.

And I wonder if any of you have felt the same way.

Honoured and amazed…

The Top 10 People of 2009As I was getting ready for work this morning, I looked at my computer a little bleary-eyed and saw this tweet from Jeff Stephens. It was a nice way to start the day.

A few weeks back, Bank Technology News told me I had been named one of the top 10 innovators of 2009. I was humbled, kind of in disbelief, honoured and thrilled.

Today, they published The Top 10 People of 2009. I netted out in the coveted number 2-3-4 spot, along with Aaron Patzer of mint.com and Jeff Carter, CEO of azigo.com and co-founder of the Center for Future Banking at MIT’s Media Lab.

Bank Technology News wrangled us together on a conference call and published this story: Where Innovation Is, and Isn’t, in Retail Banking.

So, I guess this constitutes a good day…

BarCampBankBC2 was a local, reflective event.

BarCampBankBC2BarCampBankBC2 took place today. Tim McAlpine, Gene Blishen and I decided to make it a lower key, locally-focused event, given the economic times. It took place in the Vancity board room, and about 25 people from FIs and FI-related organizations took part in the conversations. The conversations focused a lot on co-operation, and, as often happens at BarCampBanks, the participants were mostly from the credit union world.

We talked about co-operation amongst co-operatives, about innovating new products, about channel strategy, about pulling together our members’ data to help them understand their finances more easily.

As I reflect, I think the main theme that emerged was the implicit or explicit barriers that are in place in our various organizations that hinder innovation, agility and sometimes even common sense. In some ways it was a ‘grass is always greener’ conversation where smaller organizations envy the resources bigger organizations have, and larger organizations envy the agility and lack of silos in smaller organizations.

It was a pleasure to discuss the issues of the day with some Twitter friends, including @eddron, @wendyholm, @dcesarini, @currencyTim, @pennyminder and @ebrett. Almost all of whom were at BarCampBankBC last year. So, I think we’re safe to say we’ll do it again next year. Perhaps same place and same weekend…

The wifi was spotty, and the conversations were involved, so there wasn’t a lot of Tweeting, but the Twitter tag was #bcbbc2, if you want to see the commentary.

On a personal level, BarCampBankBC2 marks the end of one of the busiest periods in recent memory for me. Starting with buying our house, going to Bologna, moving, launching the League of Kickass Business People in Vancouver, Ivan starting Kindergarten, finishing a major business case to revamp our intranet and bring enterprise 2.0 to our organization, writing an online service experience strategy, driving Vancity’s co-op week activities, plus some critical business issues at work and, oh yeah, my day job. Summers are usually a little slower, but this one was jam packed, almost all with outstanding items, but slightly more than my plate could hold. It’s one of those times where I’m excited about all the different things I’m involved with, but I’ve still been looking forward to having some of them behind me and not in front of me.

So there it goes.