public policy and governance
design course                     $800/$1100

about this online course

The Public Policy and Governance Design Course presents the underlying theory (i.e. Biomatrix theory) and methodology of complex problem solving and system redesign. It outlines the seven forces of organization (environment, ethos, aims, process, structure, governance and substance) that co-produce all systems. It also explains the organizing principles that are relevant to the design of a system in general and of a public policy / governance system specifically. It designs a public governance function as a coherently regulated and regulating governance supply / value chain that promotes sustainability and societal development. It also explains the theory and praxis of managing change in the public domain.

Participants apply the learning to a chosen case study system (i.e. the public governance function of which they are a part). Through self-reflective and template-driven assignments they identify and analyze its complex problems, create an ideal design and plan the implementation of the design and how to manage the change.

why the course is needed

Complex societal problems (i.e. poverty, finance crises, unsustainable health care systems, outdated education systems, traffic jams, resource depletion, climate change, amongst numerous other problems) are to a large extent co-produced by current public policy and industry regulation, besides other co-factors. Being lobby driven, current policy development and governance entrench the status quo of the existing political, economic and cultural systems. They reinforce fragmentation, unsustainable resource use, the exceeding of nature’s carrying capacity and the continued use of technologies that perpetuate unsustainable development, while ignoring more sustainable technological solutions, amongst others. By optimizing the interests of the lobbies that perpetuate the status quo, societal development gets sub-optimized.

To create outcomes that are sustainable and benefit all stakeholders would require a shift in the management paradigm towards a (w)holistic worldview amongst researchers, managers and key decision-makers in the economy, government and other public sector organizations, as well as consultants and change facilitators.  It would also need a fundamental change (i.e. legislative changes) in how public policy is created, implemented and enforced, as well as a shift to stakeholder accountability. More specifically, it would require stakeholder co-design and implementation of policy relating to the whole industry / public function supply chain, guided by public policy facilitators who know (w)holistic theory and design methodology and are skilled in public change facilitation and management.

This course provides the relevant knowledge.

target audience

The target audience includes

  • heads of government departments, senior managers and decision-makers in public sector organizations, industry bodies and NGOs concerned with public policy development, or talent earmarked for such positions
  • public planners, public policy consultants and public change facilitators
  • IT specialists concerned with structuring the information flow associated with public governance and industry regulation.

the course as a learning investment

After completion of the course the participants will

  • think more (w)holistically and creatively
  • understand the theory and methodology of ideal (re)design, implementation planning and change management of systems in general and of public governance systems specifically
  • understand the role and effects of fragmented versus overarching governance and regulation of industries and public functions (e.g. public goods / service delivery)
  • understand how national development policies ought to be designed and implemented
  • know how to facilitate a public policy design in a manner that generates stakeholder alignment and commitment

Participants of an open enrolment course will not be able to produce a complete and implementable public policy and governance design, as this would involve a collective stakeholder effort.  They could, however, produce a high level draft design and implementation plan that can serve as basis for discussions with the other stakeholders on how to transform the shared system.

In an in-house course delivery to a corporate client (e.g. a government department), the course outcome will be an implementable ideal design, implementation plan and change management design, provided that representatives of all parts of the system and other stakeholders participate in the course. If, after the course, the participants facilitate the implementation of the legalized design according to the implementation plan and change management design, the according system can get transformed.

content of the course

The course consists of five 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 industry / public function and brainstorming ideas for (dis)solving them. The output from the exercises is further processed in the following module.

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 (i.e. environment, ethos, aims, process, structure, governance and substance) that co-produce an activity system. It 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 public policy / governance system and its sub-systems.

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.

module 5: change management design

This module explains the theory and methodology of system change and the principles associated with systemic change management. It outlines the phases involved in a system transformation (problem analysis, brainstorming, design, implementation planning, implementation and its evaluation) and how to manage them (setting up of various change management structures). It also discusses change facilitation based on a cultural typology model.

The participants are guided by templates to apply the theory to creating a change management design for how the transformation of their case study system should be managed and facilitated.

see other courses and programmes

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

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

in-house programmes


duration of the course

The average duration of the course is 8 months based on 1 day per week (i.e. about 33 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.

$1100 – includes certificate from Stellenbosch University, feedback from BiomatrixWeb, prescribed starting dates.

$800 – no feedback, no certificate, no prescribed starting dates.


On successful completion, the participants may receive a certificate in Public Policy 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 the online courses.

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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