function design course

why the course is needed

If your organizational function suffers one or more of the following problems it needs to be transformed. The course teaches how.

Typical problems include, that the function is an outdated legacy systems that has not kept up with changes in its industry and that lags behind the functional performance of competitor organizations; delivers inefficient and uncoordinated goods and services; lacks innovation and creativity; is bureaucratic; experiences problems that seem unsolvable or that persist in a different form in spite of change interventions; and its members lack motivation, are burnt out and change weary.

what the course is about

The course explains how these and other problems (dis)solve by transforming the functional system through redesigning it, making an implementation plan and implementing the design accordingly. Analogous to a riverbed channeling the water, the design guides the system to function in new ways which do not recreate the problems and lead to a more desirable future.

It presents the key concepts of (w)holistic thinking, including the principles associated with the seven forces of organization (environment, ethos, aims, process, structure, governance and substance) that co-produce all systems. It applies this knowledge to activity system design in general and function (re)design specifically.

Like all activity systems, a function and its sub-functions are organized as a value / supply chain. The course deals with function design from both a value (i.e. outcomes) perspective and a supply perspective (i.e. the use of resources and their configuration and continued flow in time and space). It also covers both the strategic and operational perspectives.

The course also deals with the theory and methodology of implementation planning.

become a (w)holistic leader and manager

Participation in the Biomatrix Function Design Course will transform you into a (w)holistic thinker based on biomatrix systems theory.

You will understand the theory and methodology of complex problem (dis)solving, as well as activity system (re)design, development and change in general and that of a function specifically. Throughout the course you are guided by template-based assignments to apply this knowledge to a chosen case study (e.g. your work function, or organization function of which you are part). You will also make an implementation plan for your design.

Once you have completed the course,  you will be confident and able to

  • assess and contextualize other tools and methods used in function related change interventions
  • act as a consultant and change manager in (w)holistic organizational function (re)design
  • act as a learning facilitator and change manager in an in-house delivery of the Biomatrix Function Transformation Programme to your organization in order to transform its functions.

course content

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 and methods of systems and complexity theories in general and of Biomatrix systems theory specifically.  Self-reflection assignments promote a (w)holistic view of the world and of sustainability.

module 2: systemic problem (dis)solving

This module explains the theory and practical steps involved in complex problem analysis and dissolving them through ideal system redesign.  Assignments guide problem analysis and brainstorming of solutions for the case study system.

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

The module explains activity systems as value and supply chains based on seven organizing forces and their organising principles.  Assignments guide the ideal redesign of the case study system.

module 4: implementation planning

This module explains how to make an implementation plan for an ideal design.  Assignments guide the implementation planning of the case study design.

see other courses and programmes

The Function 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.

project design course
organization design course
business process design course
public/private partnership design course
industry design course
public policy and governance design course

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 certificate from Stellenbosch University, feedback from BiomatrixWeb, prescribed starting dates.

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


On successful completion, the participants may receive a certificate in Function 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 for Sustainable System Design based on Biomatrix theory (which she co-developed) and the Biomatrix design methodology.

Her areas of expertise are futurism, systems thinking and strategic management. She acted as a management consultant to business organizations, NGOs and government departments on issues of organization development and restructuring, as well as strategy and public policy design.

more information

visit Stellenbosch University
short courses webpage

download information flyer:
biomatrix function design course.pdf


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