Formal scenarios were first used after World War II as a method for war game analysis (van der Heijden 1996). Their value was quickly recognized by Herman Kahn and others who advanced use of scenarios for other strategic planning applications (Kahn and Weiner 1967). The scenario approach was refined at Royal Dutch/Shell by Pierre Wack in the 1970s and 1980s, during which time Shell became a leader in using scenarios for business planning. Their approach is described in detail in Shell International (2003).
Today, scenario development is used in a wide variety of contexts ranging from political decision making (e.g., Kahane 1992 and Kahane 1998) to business planning (e.g., Wack 1985 and Schwartz 1996) and from global environmental assessments (e.g., Gallopin and others 1997, Cosgrove and Rijsberman 2000, Nakicenovic and Swart 2000, and van Notten and others 2003) to local community management (Peterson and others 2003). In 2002, the Global Scenario Group published a path-breaking set of scenarios that spurred the debate on the challenges of sustainability (Raskin and others 2002).
Rothman (2008) provides a far-reaching review of scenario development from the areas of environment and sustainable development, including a synthesis of other reviews, and a catalogue of scenarios at the global and sub-global levels. Guidelines for production of scenarios also are available on the Internet (e.g., http://scenariosforsustainability.org; http://www.beesuccessful.com).