biomatrix online courses for sustainable system design

The Biomatrix School for Sustainable System Design offers online courses for (re)designing organisational and societal systems for sustainability and development.

The courses are certified by Stellenbosch University, South Africa.

types of courses available

The (w)holistic worldview associated with Biomatrix theory and Biomatrix methodology is the foundation of all courses. It is also freely available as a MOOC.

Biomatrix theory distinguishes two generic types of systems, activity systems and entity systems, which differ fundamentally in the way they are organized. In application they give rise to different social systems. Accordingly, the following Biomatrix Courses for Sustainable System Design are available:

activity system courses

An activity system is organized as a value / supply chain that serves an overarching single aim.

project design course

A project is an activity system that ends with its implementation.

The course explains the theoretical organizing principles and practical methodology of project design.

Participants apply the knowledge to a chosen case study (a personal or organizational project). Through self-reflective and template-driven assignments they create a design for the case study project and plan its implementation.

7 months of study, 8 hours / week

$900 certified / $600 not certified

function design course

A function (e.g. a nutrition, marketing, or education system) is an activity system that serves a single overarching purpose, typically described by the name of the system.  A function is an inherent part of an entity system (e.g. a person, organization or society) and tends to exist as long as the entity system exists.

The course explains the theoretical principles and practical methodology of function (re)design, development and complex functional problem solving.

Participants apply the knowledge to a chosen case study (e.g. their work function). Through self-reflective and template-driven assignments they redesign it from both a strategic perspective (i.e. the value contributed to other systems) and operational perspective (i.e. efficiency of the good / service delivery). They also produce an implementation plan.

7 months of study, 8 hours / week

$900 certified / $600 not certified

business process design course

A business process system is a business activity system or business function of an entity system (e.g. an organization). It is typically a cross-functional system.

The course explains the theoretical principles and practical methodology of business process (re)design, development and complex business related problem solving.

Participants apply the knowledge to a chosen case study (e.g. a business process system of which they are part). Through self-reflective and template-driven assignments they redesign it from both a strategic perspective (i.e. the value delivered to clients and other stakeholders) and operational perspective (i.e. process efficiencies). They also produce an implementation plan.

7 months of study, 8 hours / week

$900 certified / $600 not certified

industry design course

An industry is an activity system of society. It consists of the linked business processes of different independent organizations which form a value / supply chain.

The course explains the theoretical principles and practical methodology of solving complex societal problem and of redesigning an industry or public function concerned with public goods / service provision for sustainability and societal development. It also deals with implementation planning and change management to ensure stakeholder alignment and support.

Participants apply the knowledge to a chosen case study (e.g. the industry or public function of which they are part). Through self-reflective and template-driven assignments they create an overarching industry design, as well as coherent sub-industry designs from both a value perspective (i.e. fair value for all stakeholders) and process flow perspective (i.e. sustainable resource use). They also produce a broad implementation plan and propose a suitable change management approach.

8 months of study, 8 hours / week

$1100 certified / $800 not certified

public policy design course

A public governance system is an activity system concerned with the governance of public systems (e.g. regulation of an industry, public policy relating to public goods / services provision, governance of society).

The course explains the theoretical principles and practical methodology of solving complex societal (including governance) problems and of designing public governance systems for sustainability and societal development. It also deals with implementation planning and change management to ensure stakeholder alignment and support.

Participants apply the knowledge to a chosen case study system (i.e. the public governance system of which they are part). Through self-reflective and template-driven assignments they redesign it as a coherently regulated supply and value chain from both a value perspective (i.e. fair value for all stakeholders) and process flow perspective (i.e. sustainable resource use). They also produce a broad implementation plan and propose a suitable change management approach.

8 months of study, 8 hours / week

$1100 certified / $800 not certified

entity system courses

An entity system is organized as a three-dimensional matrix around a self-referring ethos.

organization design course

An organization is a multi-functional system that emerges from the interaction of its different functions.

The course explains the theoretical principles and practical methodology of organization design, development and complex organizational problem solving.

Participants apply the knowledge to their own organization as a case study system. Through self-reflective and template-driven assignments they redesign it into a stable and sustainable three-dimensional learning organization that is connected to its external environment, internally coordinated and wired for ongoing change. They also produce a broad implementation plan and propose a suitable change management approach.

10 months of study, 8 hours / week

$1100 certified / $800 not certified

public / private partnership design course

A public / private partnership is an organization that structures the cooperation of independent public and private organizations in a shared public goods / services delivery.

The course explains the theoretical principles and practical methodology of public / private partnership design and development and complex societal problem solving.

Participants apply the knowledge to a chosen case study system (i.e. the partnership of which they are part). Through self-reflective and template-driven assignments they redesign it into a three-dimensional learning organization that delivers public / private goods and services in a coordinated and flexible manner and according to changing client needs. They also produce a broad implementation plan and propose a suitable change management approach.

10 months of study, 8 hours / week

$1100 certified / $800 not certified

foundation course

Sustainable system design is based on a (w)holistic worldview.

MOOC: complex problem solving and sustainable system design course

The course introduces participants to a (w)holistic worldview that underlies complex problem solving and sustainable system (re)design.  It explains how systems are organized and change, how complex problems arise and can be (dis)solved through redesigning the systems that co-produce them.

Participants apply the knowledge to a chosen case study system (e.g. a personal project or personal function) through suggested assignments and self-reflections.

3 months of study, 8 hours / week

free, available in May 2017

why the courses are needed

It becomes increasingly obvious that many of the existing social systems need fundamental change. Organizations struggle with adapting to rapid changes in their business environment and suffer from too many uncoordinated change interventions. Societal systems co-produce a wide range of complex, solutions defying problems (ranging from poverty, finance crises, education and health problems to wars and climate change). Recent political developments in many countries suggest that voters want economic, social and political change.

The causes of complex societal problems are well known, but not their solutions. For example, in 2009 the G7 finance ministers stated “We know what caused the finance crisis, but we do not know what to do about it.”  Nevertheless, a couple of trillion dollars was thrown at the problem. Albert Einstein observed that the thinking that gives rise to a problem is insufficient to solve it”. This points to the need for rethinking and finding solutions based on the logic of a different worldview.

theoretical foundation of the courses

The currently dominant worldview of science and management is reductionism. The worldview that is increasingly proposed for solving complex problems is (w)holism (and its  variants of systems, complexity, and ecological thinking). Biomatrix theory is a wholistic theory that explains how societal, natural and technological systems are organized, interact and change. It suggests that humanity’s complex problems arise from the way the current systems function and that (dis)solving them requires a transformation of those systems. Biomatrix methodology provides the practical steps involved in bringing this about. In summary, transforming a system requires

  • a design that shows how the system can function differently and produce more ideal outcomes for its stakeholders
  • an implementation plan that outlines the strategies involved in moving the system from its current state towards its more ideal design
  • a change management approach that involves stakeholders in the redesign process, aligns them around the design and gets their commitment for implementing their share of the design and thereby actually co-producing the transformation of the system.

The Biomatrix Courses for Sustainable System Design instill a (w)holistic worldview and provide the theoretical and practical knowledge of system (re)design and transformation. Through template based assignments, participants are guided to apply the knowledge to a chosen case study system (e.g. the system of which they are part).

The challenge of redesigning large systems (e.g. an organization or an industry supply chain) is that it requires the participation by and specific knowledge of all parts of the system (e.g. all functions of an organization and all sub-industries of an industry supply chain). Therefore,

  • participants in open enrolment courses cannot produce an implementable design for the system of which they are part, because they lack stakeholder participation and information. They can however produce a draft design and broad implementation and change management plans that can stimulate debate amongst stakeholders in preparation for a collective intervention.
  • participants in an in-house course delivery to a corporate client (e.g. an organisation, government department, or industry body) can co-produce a final design, provided that they represent all parts of the system. They can also facilitate its implementation and thereby transform the system. The Biomatrix Transformation Programmes assist the corporate client in managing the different phases of the system transformation.

course developer and facilitator

Dr. Elisabeth Dostal is the developer and facilitator of the online Courses for Sustainable System Design based on Biomatrix theory and methodology (which she co-developed).

Her areas of expertise are futurism, systems thinking, strategic management and management consulting and change facilitation in organization development and strategy / policy design.

 

 

The courses are brought to you in association with and certified by Stellenbosch University, South Africa.