In Game theory, Winning is the ultimate Criteria of Strategy

Waking up to the reality of the 2017 Kenyan general election outcomes, this article is a dedication to my game theory participants. As an expert in strategy, whenever, in class, I had always been asked severally which coalition would win this election and my response has been, “what do you meant by winning!  Remember the case in court so I am not suggesting that NASA lost, nor Jubilee won, the court and the evidence presented before it will tell.


As both Jubilee and NASA prepared for this election, it looked to be one of the epic battle in Kenya’s election history from the lowest office of the land to state house. Remember in between there had to be changes in IEBC, Judiciary and electoral laws. President Kenyatta was going for his last term while Raila Odinga for the so-called last stub at the presidency. That means, both contenders were to give their all, the best strategy. Both camps claimed to have a strategy, one camp even having it all over the media. In the last day of the campaign it came out clear that it was 10 Million strong and Adopt a polling station for NASA camp while for Jubilee it was 3 Million ahead of NASA. But I can bet that was not the strategy for Jubilee. Theirs was to win this election, which is for the President to get the certificate of election from IEBC.  That is what winning is, the ultimate criterion of a successful strategy. You can extend it to being sworn in but the certificate is the mother KPI for winning an election.

I have done several strategic plans for several companies, 57 to be exact, that I wish the Non-Disclosure Agreements would allow me to disclose but let me stay as a professional lest I loose what is dearest to me, integrity.  I have also sat in boards of different enterprises for a while now and when it comes to setting KPIs, I insist on setting the MOTHER KPIs first, people miss this quite often. Sometimes executives have several KPIs, which in totality don’t have the mother KPI in mind and hence miss the bigger picture. Companies need to know that market share is one of the sub-KPIs but not the mother KPI. Safaricom in 2012 during the price war with Airtel lost around 8 percent of their market share but was more profitable that year than the previous year; it was value game, not volume game. Companies’ Mother KPI isn’t leads generated, but leads converted into sales, revenue, the cash in the bank. A company can be in a market where it generates 5,000 leads but converts only 3% of the leads (150 sales), making the cost per unit sale very high hence affects its cost income ratio. Another company can only generate 1,000 leads but be able to convert 40% (400 sales). This gives better profitability hence higher cost-income ratio.


For Jubilee, their strategy was spot on, President Kenyatta being handed the election certificate. For NASA, it wasn’t since it was 10 Million strong but not getting the certificate of election handed to Raila. This informed their activities. They had large crowds turning in for their rallies, which they also took as their KPI. They continued combat with Jubilee, the Military, the judiciary, the Kenya police and worst of all IEBC. Their 10 million strong was a support base but they never delivered 10 million votes. The adopt a polling station ended up being illegal but worst of all couldn’t provide them with their own evidence of form 34A and 34B, something they could have carried to supreme court as significant evidence. Could these enable them get the all-important IEBC election certificate! Your guess is as good as mine. How then could we tell that NASA had a strategy, that they could get this certificate. Lets see if there is a framework we can use to pressure-test NASA’s Strategy or lack of. My game theory participants know that crucial performance measurement called AVAC analysis. This could tell NASA whether they could win this election or not.


AVAC has four important components to test the potential of any strategy. First, its about Activities. This begs the question whether the firm is performing the right set of activities and whether it has what it takes to perform them. Is bushing Jubilee, the military, the Judiciary, the Kenya Police and IEBC the right activities that would lead to NASA finding their presidential candidate handed the certificate of elections? Very debatable but we can guess it has not and it wasn’t going to do so anyway. Second, component test whether the organization offering value that is perceived to be unique by the clients. Since the clients of politicians are voters, the question is whether the change message or lack of resonated with the voter. This is actually the weakest component of the NASA campaign, at least this was in their hands and they could have deployed the strategists that were at their disposal to help with this but it was entirely ignored it. Third is about Appropriatability. For firms, the question is can the firms make money out of the activities, turn in profit? For NASA, its about, how much those activities stated above could enable them get the certificate, not just votes but certificate as the Mother KPI. On this, I also believe the disorganization with the polling agents, the failure around adopt polling station strategy and the tallying center leaves a lot to be desired. NASA had not even done a legal audit to determine that they couldn’t be able to stay at the polling station and also staying at the polling station doesn’t guard votes but guarding form 34A/B and how numbers reached that form was the main thing. The last question is, about change. This attempts to answer the question on whenever there are changes in the election arena, can your party still win? It seems in every election, as someone tweeted, we learn about new things. This year it was about IT security. How prepared was NASA to deal with this animal? They could not come up with evidence based systems audit that could put IEBC down. IEBC responded to their letter with counterfactuals that were overwhelming. They must have got a document that was leaked to them intentionally by National Intelligence and they fall prey. Raila called the press conference claiming he had caught them yet their evidence had inconsistencies, it was from Microsoft yet IEBC was on Oracle, the numbers were misleading.


The bottomline, listening to the NASA presidential candidate, Raila has never figured out that mother KPI, what it means to win an election. He said it even on the date of the election that he has run for election three times before and this is his fourth one. The first one he said he was just testing the waters but he won 2 successive ones. The day it will get into his head that winning an election is being handed the Certificate of election, my game theory participants would agree with me that his activities in managing the elections would be totally different hence he would perform the right set if activities and ask himself whether he has what it takes to perform.  Uhuru had the government machinery in its fullness. He will also ask himself what value that is unique that he would bring that the incumbent didn’t have. He would have figured how to turn crowds’ turnout, voters’ turnout into getting the IEBC certificate, value appropriation. Lastly, he could have done scenario and contingency planning in managing the campaigns; the polling and tallying that would lead to getting the IEBC certificate. That is the ultimate criterion of winning an election my game theory participants. As we now move to supreme court, let him not be too much combative with the courts, this is also not the right set of activity to get your prayers granted by the highest court in the land, let the cooperate with IEBC to ensure that the court processes are run in the smoothest manner possible and they may in the end be rewarded. Its also not bad cooperating with the enemy, Jubilee, game theory is about cooperating to create value and competing to appropriate value.

Published by Dr. Fred Ogola, Senior Lecturer at Strathmore Business School

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