Editorial: No more laurels to rest on

Managing editor Emily Wexler on the need for agencies and corporations to mix in education and exploration initiatives to keep up in a fast-moving world.

I’m reading a book right now called Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. It’s the tale of a young man who works at a bookstore and discovers a secret society, and while I won’t reveal any further plot points, I will say that there’s an underlying theme of merging ancient practices and new technology.

One of the characters works at Google, and the book (although fiction) gives a glimpse inside the real Google-verse, including an overwhelming multitude of projects that go far beyond search engines. Really far. One of the projects mentioned in the book is Google Forever (called the Calico project in reality), which is dedicated to researching methods of prolonging human life. (Google executive Ray Kurzweil reportedly takes 150 vitamins a day with the hope of extending his own lifespan.)

If you think the worlds of business, creativity and technology are moving too fast to keep up with, just think that in the near future, Google may bring to market a self-driving car and possibly a (near) solution to the pesky problem of mortality. And that’s just Google. There are so many brilliant startups/people/corporations that are doing genius things on a daily basis. How do you keep up with it all, and perhaps more importantly, how do you get a piece of the action?

Some of our Agency of the Year winners let us in on what they’re doing to stay on top of the explosive spread of ideas. Gold AOY winner John St. has “Partner Days” – mini conferences where partner production companies speak about new capabilities, measurements and technology. They also have post-conference briefings after events like Cannes and SXSW.

Silver AOY winner Taxi introduced an “accelerator program,” which brings together a small, fluid team from the agency and the client to focus on what’s happening in culture, and brainstorm ideas they can bring to market directly.

Tribal Worldwide, which won Digital AOY Gold, has created a co-working space, inviting tech startups to share its office in an effort to absorb some of their knowledge and skills.

And several agencies, such as BBDO (which won Silver in Digital and Bronze in AOY), host sessions where they scour the web for the coolest tech/creativity out there. I’d like to point out that we’ve been doing this with Stimulantonline.ca for quite some time.

And it’s not just agencies. Clients are getting in on the action as well. Kraft’s CMO Tony Matta says the corporation is shaking things up (and shedding its self-admittedly old-school reputation) with events like “Maker’s Day.” Inspired by Silicon Valley, it’s a mass brainstorming session over 24 hours where any idea, no matter how big or small, can be brought to the table.

It’s become imperative to keep up. Just going about your day-to-day business without a steady stream of education and exploration is no longer an option. You can’t rest on your laurels because there are no more laurels to rest on. If you do, be prepared to lose business and accolades, like Agency of the Year, to those on the fast track.

Welcome to your future.