Lesson in gullibility: When it’s too good to be true, it usually is

Human beings are intrinsically gullible animals. Our evolutionary success to culture, and our unique ability to accept, trust and act on narratives from others, have led us to accumulate a shared view that the world is pretty much a safe place.

In a way, trusting others is now hardwired in our nature. But not everything we hear from others is useful, or even true.

People have been misled and fooled, sometimes for fun, but more often, for profit, or for political gain. Nobody knows exactly how often this happens because very few people will ever own up. Because they know, it would make them seem very silly.

When something appears on your laptop suggesting that you can be a millionaire overnight, you have to be much sillier than a goldfish to reach for your debit card. But people do. All the time.

We often see the victims on the news, all teary-eyed and resentful, and we’re supposed to feel sorry for them. Don’t.

When you pick up the phone in the middle of the night and it’s a man claiming he can clear all the debts of a football club and help your agency to become the management with an average budget of RM10 million for the next five seasons, you have to have the IQ of a cabbage to think, “Hmmm. This sounds very interesting.”

And to add to that, you recklessly employ a former footballer with a previous top management portfolio, on the broad assumption that he wouldn’t have a mind of his own and would be able to appreciate the same managerial values as you, and understand the disruptive innovation you intend to inspire.

Without rhyme or reason, you grant him the privilege to assemble his own people and empower him much discretion on matters related to football.

On a working level, this is a tremendous dynamic. Not only because it would then give you time to work on the financial repercussions from the previous management, it also provides room for you to focus on the needed commercial works to steer the club through the next season.

Facing ever-stiffer club licencing requirements and dizzying changes, football clubs must impose certain structural reforms to stay commercially viable.

But most initiatives backfire. That’s because many managers fail to make the most important assumption – the resistance to change from employees.

Employees resist change because they fear they can’t make the adjustments required by the new management. For those in higher managerial positions, the resistance to change is because they believe they’ll lose something, such as power or status.

Depending on the value of that perceived loss, resistance is a continuum that begins from the spectrum where an employee simply displays withdrawal behaviours, to conducts that are more hostile – like sabotage or subversiveness.

I have pretty much worked out what happened to me at Perak FC. I will certainly be doing something about it, like exposing what exactly transpired.

Muhammad Yunus Zakariah is the former CEO of Perak FC. This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.