Another BarCampBankBC advertisement

Tim and William have done recent posts about BarCampBankBC which amply speak of what it is about. I can only repeat what they have already said.

This will be my 4th BarCampBank and one that hopefully will start “to foster innovations and the creation of new business models in the world of banking and finance.” in our geographic area and beyond. This direction is long overdue.

I have repeated numerous times that the ability and opportunity for financial institutions to create new products and services has never been better. All of the building blocks are there. The only hampering item is ourselves. We have created structures that make it difficult to foster innovation. We fail to keep our eyes focused on the end event and get caught up in the mundane and minuscule processes. Yes the devil is in the details but that should not be the excuse to limit our ability to be creative. This event is going to have some very interesting people attending. There are a few that I don’t see listed that will also be mentioned.

• Tim McAlpine – the creative genius of Currency Marketing.

• William Azaroff – the man behind Change Everything at Vancity.

• Morriss Partee – the New Englander whose CU Everything is a wealth of knowledge for CUs.

• Nala Henkel – another smart cookie from Currency

• Nancy Zimmerman – one of the most energetic and outspoken bankers I know, and she has heart.

• Stephen Akhurst – a very intelligent Central 1 consultant, he puts together the Innovation Awards for CUs in BC.

• Denise Wymore- Watch out when she starts talking about her pet peeves.

• Matt Vance – who wouldn’t like anyone from Bellingham?

• Boris Mann – the Drupal guy who makes things happen.

• Tripp Johnson – don’t know Trip but know about the Gonzo Banker people.

• Wendy Lachance – Coast Capital’s mobile expert.

• Kate Dugas – the other half of Change Everything at Vancity.

• Andy LaFlamme – another New Englander whose points of view are articulate and insightful. (Don’t get him and Morriss together for a Guitar Hero event!)

• Brent Dixon – one of the most creative people I know of.

• Dana Dekker – he was the force behind MACUs success.

• Roland Tanglao – if you want to know anything about mobile phones ask Roland.

• Caleb Chang – Caleb wears Hawaiian shirts on Monday, need I say more?

• David Drucker – a GUI expert and an ex-Bostoner (Bostonite? some one help me here).

• Laurel McJannet – she is from Verity which says it all.

• Mark Sadowski – Anyone from New Mexico has to be mentioned.

• Jeffry Pilcher – if you want to talk to Jeffry make sure all your ducks are in a row.

Who is missing? Ron Shevlin, Charlie Trotter, anyone from the Garland Group, Christian Mullins, anyone from Indianna or the Carolinas and a number of others.

Seriously if you haven’t attended a BarCampBank before this is your chance. You will not regret it. Don’t let the $35 registration fee paint it as a non-event. You will come away with some truly invaluable insights you won’t find anywhere else. It is an international event.

Expectations and realities of BarCamps

Yesterday Tim, William and I had a conference call about the upcoming BCBBC. During the conversation we talked about the Seattle Bar Camp Bank and how we viewed it. It was interesting to hear that we all wanted to repeat Seattle’s success by having something similar.

But are BarCampBanks always similar? The format and the way the event is held is unique and it contributes a lot to its success. No one owns the agenda. You vote with your feet. Sessions can continue until everyone says its over. Discussion, dialogue and conversation are great ways to communicate, debates aren’t. Relationships have already been created through Internet means (blogs and Twitter). Meeting people face to face after you have know them online is a phenonemal experience. Venues can add to the flavour of the event. It is a time of incubating ideas. It is the Olympics of conferences. No talking heads telling you what you already now. Inexpensive. Unbelievable value. The points are numerous and everyone who attends can give numerous examples as to why they will attend again.

But each one that I have attended is unique. And I keep trying to nail down what makes it so. There is a climate of networking and relationships that form at these meetings based on the individuals present. The BarCampBanks are made up of such a wide range of characters that they can’t be the same just by the fact of who attends. Maybe it is because we don’t really have such a strong expectation of what will come from the event. We already know that will happen. The expectation is the excitement of the discussions, the passion shown by everyone, the energy in just being in a room with such remarkable people. We thought we came seeking a holy grail but found that each of us had the capacity to create something unique in our relationships and our being together for this short time. The time you have is limited and you want to make the most of it.

BarCamps cannot really be explained. You could add numerous paragraphs to the above and still just touch on what they are. You have to be there and experience a BarCamp to understand fully what it is. With everyone being different you realize it really is the people that are important here. The focus is us. And that is so different from those expensive, boring, talking head, self-appointed expert sessions we have all fallen asleep at.

What was truly great about Indianapolis

It has been two weeks since the Forum Solutions Trabian Partnership Symposium and there is something that keeps me wondering why it stands out in my mind to such a great degree. The same thing applies for BarCampBankSeattle. Then today I was talking to Lisa Hochgraf at CUES and it finally dawned on me.
Passion. The Oxford English dictionary explains it as “to show, express, or be affected by passion or deep feeling.” And that expression and deep feeling was shown by every presenter during those two days. It was an experience that was there with every conversation you had with other attendees. It was what was core to the  Dianne  Denise/Ron debate. Everything during that time pointed to a group of people who had a passion for credit unions. You usually never experience this when going to the typical conference. You spend your bucks, sit at a table and hear numerous speakers over a few days. After every lunch break you try to stay awake always feeling sorry for the poor guy that is probably staring at so many closed eyelids. You come away thinking “didn’t learn much here, most of the same old thing.” You hear so few speakers with much passion. If you do see one or two you think the conference was ok.
Our credit union system is evolving with an incredible tendency to think that growth for growth’s sake is the prime strategy we need to follow. (Remember growth can sometimes hide a multitude of sins). That economies of scale is the only true mantra. But Indianapolis said something different. It said think smart and stay relevant to the member/owner. The energy and possibility of achieving what we set out to do is only going to be limited by ourselves. It was nice to be with so many people that saw so much opportunity and so few limitations.

BarCampBankSeattle (BCBS) and the need for tattoos

Near the end of the Saturday session (someone correct me if I am wrong) we got into a great debate because of Jesse’s two teller conundrum. I mentioned that every GM should have the 7 Co-operative Principles tattooed to their butts. From that point it moved into some laughable circles. But the interesting point was that most did not know about these principles. Maybe they did, or had read them, but they weren’t at the top of my mind and I couldn’t repeat them verbatim. One quick point – on the link above there is a bold comment at the end “We embrace and live by these principles”. Wow, those are tattooing words!

Today I was looking at Denis Wymore’s home page and what is there — a note about her book “Tattoos: the Ultimate Proof of a Successful Brand”. This is now getting to look very different. Successful brands have tattoos but we who consider ourselves credit unionists can’t repeat a single cooperative principle. What does that say about our brand? We talked about creating a manifesto from the weekend’s meeting. Each of these principles could be wordsmithed into an understandable, concise language that would fit what we talked about. So here is one feeble attempt at it.
Open Membership – open to everyone willing to accept the responsibilities of membership. Since when did any of us hear of a “responsibility of membership”? What is it? Maybe we have been thinking to much of “me” and not enough of “we” when decided responsibilities.

– one member, one vote. Interesting. No proxies. Someone once told me there are 4 ways to make a decision

  1. Consensus, the best way but very time consuming and we never have time for something like this right?
  2. Compromise, the politician’s way when you get something, I get something and the guy at the end of the line gets nothing.
  3. Vote, yes our democratic principle that means those that have the biggest teams, armies or mobs get to decide usually with the big group controlling the agenda and deciding who gets #4.
  4. Crucifixion – I will leave it at that.

So which even if we do vote to make decision why does everyone feel like someone got dealt #4?

Democratic member control – members who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Now there is a time bomb. Since when did any CEO and the senior VP team listen and act in direct concert with members in “setting their policies and making decisions”. We have listened to regulators, consultants, economists, politicians, bureaucrats, bankers (of course) and everyone who is NOT a member it seems, in setting policies and making decisions. Notice it says their policies. Policies of the individual and autonomous and system minded credit union.

In the next post I will pick up on a few more of these tattooable items.