The web site Evadot recently published a comprehensive “team scorecard” ranking all the current teams participating in the Google Lunar X PRIZE. The scorecard lists 22 teams and their cumulative scores based on the following metrics:
- Funding – 20 possible points – Measures how far along the teams are in their acquisition of funding based on their publicly stated estimated mission costs
- Innovation – 10 possible points – Measures how much innovation is being used across the entire project. This includes new inventions and clever reuses of existing resources and technology
- Social Savvy – 10 possible points – It’s 2010 and connecting with people will require the use of social networks and other avenues in order to gain mindshare of both influential thinkers and the “people on the street”
- Connections – 10 possible points – Measures how connected are the people involved in the team leadership to the outside help and expertise they will need to execute their mission.
- Progress – 10 possible points – Measures our perception of their progress to being able to launch.
- Feeling – 10 possible points – Measures just our gut feeling about the team. Things like that look in a leader’s eyes when they speak.
- Inspiration – 10 possible points – Measures the ability to inspire others.
- Rover/Lander Completion – 10 possible points – How complete is the actual build.
- Participatory Exploration – 10 possible points – Measures the teams involvement in involving others. People need to feel directly connected to the exploration of space in order to have a long term impact on their thinking.
It’s certainly a comprehensive examination of the teams, and Michael Doornbos deserves credit for putting it together. However, if the goal is to measure which teams are closest to winning the prize, the categories and their weighting should be reconsidered. Some comments:
1) While the scorecard weights funding more than any other category, it’s still not weighted heavily enough. Getting enough funding to carry out a mission is perhaps the most difficult aspect of the competition, given that none of the teams are independently wealthy or (with, perhaps, the exception of new team Rocket City Space Pioneers) have the backing of major corporations. You can have a great concept, an impressive social media strategy, and inspiration oozing out your virtual pores, but without money you’re never getting off the ground.
2) Similarly, hardware development should be weighted more: it’s a key differentiator between teams making serious progress towards going to the Moon versus those with flashy web sites and gorgeous illustrations, but nothing else.
3) Several of the other categories should be weighted less, or even combined or eliminated: social savvy, connections, feeling, and inspiration among them. Social media is nice to have, but beyond the requirements set forth by the competition it’s not essential. And some of the metrics are admittedly extremely subjective (see “feeling”).
4) Since progress is captured in other areas, such as funding and hardware development, having a separate progress category seems redundant.
A simplistic alternative would be to give one-third weight to funding, one-third to hardware development, and one-third distributed among the other categories. Even that, though, may underweight funding and hardware.