Can You Be Big AND Creative

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.


2 thoughts on “Can You Be Big AND Creative

  1. “There are plenty of others …”, hmmm when I say that I usually can’t think of any others. lol!
    There is also the fact that big companies need to recognise and foster creativity, if you want creative people then you should make it easy for them to be creative – unless all you want is the credit that comes from others being creative, then you should piss off. But it’s a tricky one as people can get lazy and abuse freedoms. Interesting post ‘theEncouragerOfChaos’ 🙂

  2. I spent three years building a product development program for a company that kept talking about how it wanted to be innovative again. Unfortunately, all they really wanted to do was TALK about how they were innovative. Although every new design we came up with was a success and came with tons of great patents, upper management never got behind any of the products until AFTER they were released. It was a horrible experience. Without a champion at the VP level, innovation is dead in the water.

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