Organizational Processes Part II: Change Management

The beauty of the Cannabis Industry is it is not limited by prior experiences. But an abundance of options to sculpt the Industry’s future combined with the absence of pre-established protocols can force a company into an arduous situation. This combination leads ownership to rashly define a weak strategy plan. This forces management to frantically react leading to confused employees, upset vendors, and contributes to company waste. Ultimately, this common situation leads to disgruntled employees at all levels. Employees will disengage after their employer teaches them processes and documentation are disposable because the unexpected is to be expected.  In the third and final installment of “The Four Elements of the Organizational Process: Change Management,” the cure to chaos amidst change, will be dissected.

Change Management is an umbrella term encompassing the organizational tools and processes, such as Supply Chain Management, GMPs, and SOPs that support individuals and teams to make successful personal transitions during organizational changes. Through Change Management training and discipline companies can change within their organization while managing the change, monitoring progress, and successes. It is vital to remember that the common denominator between what Change Management is and how Change Management is implemented is people.

People absolutely make or break a company’s operations, profitability, and compliance. All the processes, SOPs, lab testing, and GMP manufacturing, and cleaning training programs are moot if any one person or group associated with the organization, regardless of whether they are internally or externally associated, don’t understand and/or don’t comply with the function of their role.

Ownership/senior management fail their organization by neglecting to fully integrate compliance and GMP-like standards into daily routines. Additionally, disregarding programs and tools that support employee work flow and denying employee incentives kill any chance of success. Conversely, when ownership and Senior Management fulfills its role and employees fail to follow procedures there needs to be well documented internal rules in place and understood by all employees with the understanding serious consequences will follow intentional deviation from the rules.  All company employees from ownership to mid-management and down must buy-in and follow the company direction for an organization to function.

Let’s explore how Change Management works to support, guide, and reward employee buy-in and compliance with the three components of Change Management: Project Management, Process or Equipment Change Management, and People Change Management.

Project Management (PM)

Project Management involves planning, scheduling, and monitoring/controlling all the activities pertinent to the successful completion of project objectives. As a process, Project Management encompasses project processes, a project life cycle, and project management systems.

Project processes are the organizing tools of a project that assist employees with meeting project deliverables. Understanding the project process requires defining and understanding who is responsible for performing a certain process or task and during what phase of the project process activity should be performed.

Every project has a project life cycle. The project manager must successfully understand and navigate each phase of the project life cycle to ensure successful project completion. There are four distinct phases in every project life cycle: Concept, Planning, Executing/Implementing, and Closeout phases.

Project management systems is a collective term to describe the multitude of components tied to project management. At first thought, one would think project management systems solely consist of budgetary information and timetables. On the contrary, project management systems are quite multifaceted. The components of a project management system include: the human, cultural, organizational, methodological, information, planning, and control/management components:

The Human Component – requires emotional intelligence on behalf of the project team and the ability to navigate “people issues” along with negotiating, motivating, and maneuvering office politics.

The Cultural Components The project management team must be informed and sensitive to different cultural beliefs, values, attitudes, behaviors, and traditions presented within the project environment.

The Organization Component – requires the team manager to manage, organize, and hold team members accountable for fulfilling their role.

The Methodological Component – is the organization of operational aspects through the project life cycle while knowing what tools are available to assist with project completion.

The Information Component – involves capturing metrics relevant to the project so outline how the project was completed.

The Planning Component – outlines the plan of action to produce the desired end goal.

The Management Component – Project Managers must know how to take charge and when to take charge to prevent project derailment.

Process and Equipment Change Management

Change Management is a moderately uniform process designed to mitigate confusion, delays, and frustrations. Process and equipment change management is no exception. A strict, documented approval process must be followed when requesting changes to a process or piece of equipment. This part of the Change Management process ensures a change will not jeopardize the validated status of the facilities, systems, equipment, and processes. Changes to process and equipment are work place disruptions; within a functional organization approval is not taken lightly. As a matter of liability, process and equipment change must be recorded and filed away.

Unsurprisingly, the value of the Change Management process is not lost on governments. The Colorado State government and the European Union already have cannabis specific change management regulations. For example, Colorado regulations refer to “material change” in various portions of the regulations, as any change in ownership, employees, license, location of business that requires revision and updating records and documents. The EU likewise stipulated significant changes to a process or to equipment are required to go through the approval and documentation process. One could assume these regulations are precursors to more drastic regulation enforcement in the future. The Cannabis Industry is eking closer to national legalization, as the cannabis industry nears that goal it would behoove Industry leaders to mimic their change management process to mirror FDA type Industries and practices. The market is flooded with increasingly more sophisticated products, processes, packaging and delivery methods, and the likelihood of cannabis businesses being held to process standards is likely.

People Change Management

Fad steps and formulas have been created and studied to interweave throughout an organization to promote how and what to change, but it always comes back to people. Given the start-up nature of the Cannabis Industry, it has a unique opportunity to address employee needs for breaking free of embedded traditions.

The Cannabis Industry is also flooded with Millennials who bring with them new, more streamlined, innovative, and tech-driven business solutions. What better industry to embrace employees as the key component to assuring the success of your business and the industry? People Change Management addresses employee progress, incentives, and retention.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch, though. People Change Management is synergistic. Employees must demonstrate an awareness of weaknesses and a wish to take action to resolve weaknesses. They must take action and seek to strengthen their knowledge base and demonstrate their new ability. Finally, the employee must be able to recall their newly gained knowledge and skills before being incentivized.

In exchange, companies offer employees incentives to grow their skill base and comply with organization guidelines. There’s a variety of ways organizations can incentivize personal growth. College tuition reimbursement is an excellent attraction for many Industry employees. Incentivizing via sharing cost savings from existing programs, such as better health insurance plans, energy savings or efficiency gains with the “green team” and employees. Another great option is offering incremental raises in exchange for cross-training and a moderate expansion of duties. Providing career path assistance and mentoring and training are other great and smart approaches to rewarding employee engagement and buy-in.


In summation, the four elements of the organizational process provide companies with a roadmap to build and efficiently manage a functioning business. Strategic Planning establishes company direction while Operational Planning determines how to execute ownership’s vision. Quality Management Systems monitor and record systems and that frequently lead to processes evolving. And Change Management fosters smooth transition that comes with change. And thus, the reduction of chaos by building faith in employees across all levels to bolster organization wide buy-in to the company’s directions.

Establishing and enforcing the four elements of the organizational process can be a daunting task for inexperienced businesses. Seeking outside Advisory Services from firms like The GMP Collective can take that anxiety out of the equation and provide you with quantifiable solutions that improve your bottom line.

The four elements of the organizational process are a packaged plan that, with sustained effort, will continue to give back to the company in the form of purpose, clarity, and preservation.

Contact Us today to kick start your change management program so that you can begin seeing results tomorrow!