October 18, 2007
Staff Picks: Zoom
Posting last week about Wikinomics led me to take a renewed look at the other titles on the shortlist for the Financial Times and Goldman Sachs book award. First up is Zoom. It's a very timely book. Opening the Wall Street Journal today I ran across three stories (One on the future of Chrysler, one on big oil's image, and one that warns that low gasoline prices may not last long) that this book addresses directly and in depth. The authors believe that "oil is the problem, and cars are the solution." You could call Zoom an industry book, but that doesn't really do it justice. It is also a challenge, call to arms, and ambitious look at the future of the auto industry. They lay out steps that the auto industry and government need to take to create the car of the future, but believe the impetus for it all will be what they call the "Great Awakening" of consumers demanding change.
The challenges are daunting , but the solutions are within grasp if readers mobilize and energize the political process in favor of clean energy. Indeed, there is every chance that they can turn this crisis into opportunity, transforming the grease and grime, soot and sulfur industries that built the twentieth century into the clean, sustainable building blocks of the twenty-first century.For a good look at the history of the auto industry, read Alfred Sloan's My Years with General Motors (it's a bit of a trek, but also a fascinating look inside the mind of one of American industry's giants). For a look at its future, pick up Zoom.