Reigning in Gulliver’s travels


I completely and totally apologize for the title of this blog post. It’s like there is some kind of cosmic force forcing bloggers and journalists to write painfully cheesy headlines.

Stuart Gulliver, the new CEO of HSBC banks has decided to pull back on the aggressive global expansion of the retail portion of the bank over the last few years. Check out the full story here if you have a WSJ subscription. The story is not particularly interesting except when you take a broader view of executive decision-making. One day, a chief exec can make a very convincing argument for one strategy, and a couple months or years later, another can make an equally convincing argument for the complete opposite strategy. It’s all enough to make one hit up and pick up a copy of Carneades. Or maybe that’s just me.

Of course, I can’t actually blame HSBC for what it did or for its current course correction. How could it predict a 17% default rate on Mexican credit cards? My guess is that we won’t be hearing too much about micro-loan schemes in Vietnam for the next couple years either…

There really is no major life lesson in this post. In terms of strategy, my thoughts are that a tipping point of information must be considered followed by an aggressive implementation. The true test of an executive team is the courage to reverse course when it turns out that reality conflicts with one’s own conception of it.

Stay tuned for an upcoming post on the world of travel search. I promise to make it more fun than it sounds…its on hold now because the day job’s got me so worn out that writing a post that actually requires thought just isn’t happening today.


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