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Strategy Boutiques brainstorm to 50th birthday

Whalesong and joss-sticks all round

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We here at Vulture Central would like to wish a very happy birthday today to all you Strategy Boutiques out there doing so much to redefine the world's brand frontage paradigms and evolve the value proposition your clients represent to their constituents.

Indeed, it was today in 1957 that Chemical and Engineering News first proposed the use of the word "brainstorming" as "group-oriented, uninhibited thinking - a problem-oriented 'bull session'" - although we don't think the magazine quite realised how accurate the description "bull session" would become to describe the kind of PowerPoint and whalesong-driven synergistic insanity where nose-Ajax-crazed ying-yang realignment executives discuss the implications on the corporate feng-shui of kicking a product-set deep dive over the fence and seeing if the neighbour throws it back before taking it offline to the nearest wine bar.

But hold on a minute...

According to a bit more digging, Strategy Boutiques were actually born in 1938, when Alex Osborn of (you guessed it) advertising agency Batten, Barton, Durstine and Osborn developed the concept of "the brainstorm session, or group brainstorming".

In 1955, Business Week gave its stamp of approval, describing brainstorming as "free-wheeling sessions that encourage wild ideas but prohibit any evaluation or discussion until the session is over".

The etymologists among you will, of course, wish to point out that the original meaning of brainstorm was "a sudden, violent disturbance of the mind" - with which thought we'll leave the Strategy Boutiques to hoover up some Bolivian marching powder, pop the lid on a chilled continental lager and celebrate an undefined number of years solutionising sweet spots and incubating mission-critical users. ®

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