Strategic Planning

Strategic Planning is the process by which organizations take the time to strategically think about their mission, visions, values and goals as an organization. While some film commission offices may not have the opportunity to pull a group to go through a formal strategic planning process, it can be helpful to just think through each of the steps and make an informal plan that can guide your decision making or recommendations in the future.

If you do have the opportunity, strategic planning with a governing board and other stakeholders can be very beneficial and bring in perspectives that provide strong guidance for the future of the office.

The Strategic Planning Process

Strategic planning is an ordered process with specific objectives and deliverables which are used to implement the plan and then evaluate the process. It affords organizations the opportunity to look ahead, define key priorities and make a plan to achieve their long-term goals. It opens the door for the organization the opportunity to influence the future or at least assume a pro-active position. Of immeasurable value is the fact that participants in the strategic planning process have a high level of buy-in to the future goals of the organization.


Assuring that there is an outline for the planning sessions before diving into the strategic planning process is crucial. Consider how much time you can devote to the process, who needs to attend the sessions, how many sessions are necessary, who is in charge, and how the process will be carried out. Determine the desired outcome, such as a one-year plan, five-year plan or ten-year plan.

A critical part of the preparation for a strategic planning session is collecting data and assessing the organization’s current situation. While this is often the most tempting part of the process to skip, the data collected helps participants understand the organization’s needs and weaknesses so as to leverage its strengths for future success.

Possible information to be gathered includes current mission, vision and values statements, former strategic and operational plans, work plans, organizational charts, internal communication systems, personnel policies, climate surveys or other employee surveys, needs assessments, client surveys, industry best practices and financial documents.

To understand their perceptions, some organizations will survey stakeholders prior to a strategic planning session. Survey questions may include questions about ways the organization could improve, what is keeping the organization from fulfilling its mission, what does the organization do well and what are the organization’s top priorities. This information then becomes a springboard for discussion during the actual session.

Other organizations will incorporate a TWOS analysis into the planning day itself to consider the external and internal environment. The TWOS Analysis (Threats, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Strengths) is an often-used tool in planning. Often done in the SWOT order, it ensures these considerations are part of strategic planning and helps to eliminate unexpected roadblocks and detours as the plan is implemented. Further discussion regarding the TWOS analysis is included below.

Articulate a Vision

Typically one of the first orders of business during a strategic planning session is to articulate the organization’s vision. As discussed previously, your vision statement describes what the organization wants to be or accomplish. It must be thorough enough to keep you on course but reducible to a phrase that becomes the corporate “rallying cry.” The vision must be consistently reviewed to ensure it remains relevant. Starting you planning session by re-affirming your vision is a good way to focus the group’s attention.

Review the Mission

As well as agreeing on the vision for the future of your organization, participants involved in strategic planning must understand the organization’s mission. Everyone needs to understand and support the reason for the organization’s existence, what is its purpose, whom does it serve, and what does it do to provide the service(s)? Articulating or re-articulating the mission statement helps an organization stay on track. Since mission statements may change over time, it is important to review yours each year. Before embarking on a strategy for the organization’s future, ensuring an up-to-date mission is critical.