Big companies love creativity, and they love innovation. They love research and development and sometimes they excel in these areas. And while they may love it, they do not necessarily foster it. It is good for marketing, morale and PR, but in the end, it does not necessarily boost number of billable hours.

The paradox, of course, is that creativity is necessary. But creativity in a large company has to be systematised, mandated or tolerated in some form, and in the process, can lose its authenticity. The challenge is to find a way through the red tape, the demand for "shareholder value" or accusations of "contributing to overheads".

Here are a couple of tips for staying creative within a large company:

  • Get a sponsor: Find someone more senior in the company who can champion your work. Make sure that you make your sponsor look good at every opportunity.
  • Brand your project: Apply the principles of marketing and communication to your efforts. Sure you need good results, but when you get them, make sure everyone knows about them. And make sure you have a "brand" that signifies "creativity".
  • Grass roots wins: Encourage others to be part of your projects in their spare time. If your ideas are true innovations, the talent will come to you. (And let’s face it, you can’t do it alone.)
  • Deliver early successes: Do something easy early in your program. Put up a website, talk to disaffected team members or managers, publish a newsletter … it does not matter exactly what it is you do, but just do it quickly so you can build momentum and attract interest.

There are plenty of others … feel free to share yours by commenting.