project design course           $600/$900

about this online course

The Project Design Course explains the underlying theory (i.e. Biomatrix theory) and methodology of project design and project implementation.

It outlines the seven forces of organization (environment, ethos, aims, process, structure, governance and substance) that co-produce all systems and the organizing principles that are relevant to the design of systems in general and projects specifically.

It also guides participants to apply this knowledge to a chosen case study project (a personal project or one for their organization). Through self-reflective and template-driven assignments the course participants create an ideal design for their case study project and produce a plan for implementing it.

why the course is needed

Most project management courses tend to focus on project planning and implementation. However, even well managed projects can fail to deliver the desired results, if the project design was not creative enough, did not fit the environment, or did not comply with systemic organizing principles. The more creative a design is, the more it requires the discipline of adhering to design principles.

By analogy, a creative idea for a building is not yet a design, which needs to consider and incorporate topographical, structural engineering and other principles before it can be built. For example, the famous architect Zaha Hadid creates buildings of such imagination that architects initially doubted that they can be built. Her most recent building designs needed the development of specific software to test their gravitational forces to ensure that they will not collapse.

Once a design is complete and its broad implementation tested and planned, the knowledge delivered through conventional project management courses is required to ensure its successful implementation.

Thus our Project Design Course and other project management courses complement each other.

target audience

The target audience includes

  • anyone concerned with managing projects
  • experienced project managers who want to learn the generic systemic principles of project design
  • IT specialists concerned with structuring the information flow associated with systemic project design and implementation.

the course as a learning investment

After completion of the course the participants will

  • think more (w)holistically and creatively
  • know the generic principles of how systems are organized, develop and change
  • understand the theory and methodology associated with system design in general and its application to project design specifically
  • understand the difference between project design and project management and the principles associated with each
  • be able to apply the knowledge to creating designs and implementation plans for other projects.

Participants of an open enrolment course will produce an ideal design of their personal case study project and a plan for its implementation.

In an in-house course delivery to a corporate client, large projects can be designed and their implementation planned, provided that stakeholders representing the different parts of the project participate in the course.

content of the course

The course consists of four e-learning modules. During each module, the participants apply the learned theory in template-based exercises to their case study system and reflect on the theory and methodology.

module 1: overview of general and biomatrix systems theory

This module explains the key concepts of systems and complexity theories in general and Biomatrix systems theory specifically.

The exercises generate a (w)holistic view of the world and an understanding of sustainable behaviour.

module 2: systemic problem (dis)solving

This module explains the theory for understanding complex problems and the methodology for (dis)solving them through ideal system redesign. It also provides tools for systemic problem analysis and brainstorming.

The exercises involve identifying current problems related to the case study project and brainstorming ideas for (dis)solving them. The output from the exercises is further processed in the following modules.

module 3: seven forces of system organization (activity system perspective)

This module is concerned with system design. It explains the principles of how systems are organized in general and how activity systems (e.g. a project, function, or supply / value chain) are organized specifically.

It describes the seven organizing forces (environment, ethos, aims, process, structure, governance and substance) that co-produce an activity system. It also explores the application of these forces to the functioning and design of the system as a sustainable supply chain that produces desirable value for all its stakeholders.

The exercises involve the creation of an ideal seven-faceted design for the participant’s case study project.

module 4: implementation planning

This module explains the difference between a design and implementation plan and outlines the criteria and steps involved in planning the implementation of a design.

The exercises involve making an implementation plan for the ideal design produced in the previous module and for evaluating the success of its implementation.

see other courses and programmes

The Project Design Course is one of several Biomatrix Design Courses which educate senior managers and decision-makers in the theory and methodology of sustainable system design and complex problem solving. The courses are based on Biomatrix theory which explains how systems are organized, change and develop.

function design course
organization design course
business process design course
public/private partnership design course
industry design course
public policy and governance design course
MOOC: complex problem solving

in-house programmes


duration of the course

The average duration of the course is 7 months based on 1 day per week (i.e. about 28 days), to be completed within a year.

However, some participants could take considerably less or more time to complete the course, depending on their mode of study, work experience and nature of case study.


We offer two pricing options for the self-managed course. The content and assignments remain the same.

$900 – includes feedback from BiomatrixWeb, certificate from Stellenbosch University, there are prescribed starting dates.

$600 – no feedback, no certificate, no prescribed starting dates.


On successful completion, the participants may receive a certificate in Project Design from Stellenbosch University, South Africa.

admission requirements

No formal qualifications are required. Ideally the participants have a tertiary education as well as management experience.

in-house delivery

Our courses can also be delivered in-house. Please contact us to discuss your needs.

course developer and facilitator

Dr. Elisabeth Dostal is the developer and facilitator of this and other 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 consulting and change facilitation in organization design and development, as well as strategy and policy design.


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