I’ve had a long career that’s spanned companies and industries, including agriculture, food processing and CPG. The legal cannabis space, however, is the biggest and most exciting challenge of my career.

Until recently, I saw my job as taking the lessons I learned over the past 25 years in industries characterized by commoditization, consolidation, and an insatiable drive for efficiency and applying them to cannabis. Certainly, there’s validity in that approach. After all, cannabis is an agricultural product that, like all agricultural products, will experience market corrections that determine winners and losers based on the ability to produce high-quality products with the lowest cost structure. All in my wheelhouse. With that said, I’ve recently concluded that the challenge and needs are much greater (and more interesting) than that.

Here are three things you need to succeed in today’s cannabis business environment:

1. Build and retain an amazing team.
How do you do that? Create an environment that attracts the right kind of people and allows them to flourish by freeing them up to do the things they are truly passionate about.

2. Continually create high-impact products at scale.
The qualifier “at scale” is the fly in the ointment here. In a large organization, creating this type of environment is a monumental challenge. Why? Because scale requires process. In a nutshell, process is the science of breaking down tasks into repeatable steps, supported by data and systems. The entire cannabis industry is being indoctrinated by process right now. As a company grows, however, process can become suffocating and control can prevail at the expense of entrepreneurial spirit and, ultimately, innovation. So…

3. Constantly evaluate your ability to truly innovate.
Incremental improvement is not innovation. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. True innovation requires us to think about something in a completely different way. Innovation, along with a strong pipeline of new products, is critical to creating loyal customers.

At Natura, Ori and I are focused on implementing all of this. We’re attracting high-impact leaders who can build new products and businesses. My job is to build an environment that provides our leaders with the freedom to flourish and supports them with the process they need to scale and innovate. How fun is that?


Craig Powell, COO