For Sunflower Bank, 2009 was a time for looking inward.

The company operates in markets that are slow-growth even in good times, and the past year was not among banking's better times. So the company, under the leadership of Mollie Hale Carter, undertook a new initiative called Execution 2009. At its core, it's about "making sure that everyone is on the same page and working together," says Carter, the bank's president and chief executive officer. By making changes in internal processes the $1.7-billion-asset bank will save half a billion dollars this year.

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