Navigating Complexity: Major Canadian Pharmaceutical Market Analysis

  • System Paradigm - US Cannabis Market Dynamics

    The full systems paradigm of the ecosystem of the US medicinal marijuana market including all major actors.

    Success to the Successful Archetype

    A success-to-the-successful archetype consisting of growers, investment & technology firms within the larger paradigm.

    Conventional Wisdom Behavior Modes of Market Actors

    A depiction of the "conventional wisdom" behavior modes verbalized by participants and mentally-modeled through the systems paradigm .

    Tipping Point Behavior Modes Leading to Crash

    A depiction of the mental-modeling of the system paradigm differing from the conventional wisdom. This forecast indicates a tipping point is reached in potential consumers resulting in a pre-decriminalization crash.

    Navigating Complexity: Major Canadian Pharmaceutical entering US Cannabis Market

    • Client: Major Canadian Pharmaceutical

    • Project duration: September - November 2016

    • Additional Reading: White Paper

    • Project category: Strategy, Interpreting & Navigating Complexity

    Project Overview

    The United States medicinal marijuana market, a $16.7B industry in 2016 is estimated to reach ~$50B by 2026. How it will get there is another question entirely. Conventional wisdom is that the entire industry will consolidate once Federal prohibition ends. But is this wisdom accurate, and how should different actors perform between now and then?

    In 2017 a group of Wall Street financiers, pharmaceutical executives, and large growers, met and challenged us to “rationalize the landscape” for medicinal marijuana. Together we built a system paradigm – a map of the US ecosystem of medicinal marijuana including all the major actors and their relationships: consumers, growers, dispensaries, health care providers retailers & pharmaceuticals, technology, criminal elements, investment community and the state governments.

    We were asked to evaluate the conventional wisdom of market consolidation post- prohibition. We answered this through simple simulation of the independent archetypes within the paradigm, identifying what would happen to the net revenue of key actors over time – those in the market now and those entering only after prohibition ends, and there are profound implications.


    • Identified system archetypes portraying market actors and their relationships

    • Developed system paradigm of all actors by linking archetypes together

    • Forecast future scenarios of market growth

    • Identified latent constraints, tipping points, and threshold dynamics that would accompany each scenario


    • Helped participants understand “how it all works together”

    • Able to replicate conventional wisdom from model – but also challenge it

    • Identified multiple forecasts that challenged conventional forecasts and how to identify each as they developed

    • Identified a new key-performance indicator and how to measure it

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