PROJMGNT 7047OL - Systems Fundamentals

Online - Quadmester 1 - 2018

The content of the course focuses on exploration of complex systems and the key aspects of these and the benefits for managing complex projects appropriately. There is recognition of reductionist thinking and its benefits and disadvantages; General Systems theory is discussed; Checkland's soft system methodology and Senge's system dynamics provide a context and specific skills. Major topics addressed include Network of essentially parallel systems; Emergence; Self-organisation; Inhabiting the complexity space between order and chaos; Power laws and Paretian behaviour; Scale free and fractal behaviour; Self-organised criticality; Tiny initiating events; Prigogine's dissipating structures theory; Kauffman's fitness landscape; the Environment driving system scope and structure; Dynamism; Attractor cages & Phase space; Path history; Systemic and cascading risk and black swan events; Sense making and common meaning; Identifying leverage points; Systems intelligence.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PROJMGNT 7047OL
    Course Systems Fundamentals
    Coordinating Unit Entrepreneurship, Commercialisation & Innov Centre
    Term Quadmester 1
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s Online
    Units 3
    Contact Approximately 4 hours per week over 10 weeks (interaction & preparation)
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Assessment Assignments, reports
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Associate Professor Indra Gunawan

    Program Director Contact Details:
    Project Management
    Name: Associate Professor Indra Gunawan

    Teaching Staff:

    Term 1
    Associate Professor Indra Gunawan
    Researcher profile:
    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

    Course Dates: Monday 8 January - Sunday 18 March 2018
  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes

    On successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

    1 Identify what a complex system is and how they differ from simple and complicated systems;
    2 Use key aspects of complex systems and the benefits of particular approaches in managing complexity;
    3 Recognise whether a proposed system or project should be primarily in a controlled space or in the innovation space on the edge of chaos in order to gain the benefits;
    4 Recognise the benefits of system dynamics and its use in identifying leverage points in systems;
    5 Apply these advanced and uncommon skills to address societal problems;
    6 Investigate international best practice.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    No textbook required.
    Recommended Resources
    Additional Support References are:
    Week 1 Kurtz, C. F., & Snowden, D. J. (2003). The new dynamics of strategy: Sense-making in a complex and complicated world. IBM Systems Journal, 42(3), 462-483.        
    Norman, D. & Kuras, M. (2006)  Engineering Complex Systems in Complex Systems (C10) (2006), in Complex Engineered Systems, edited by Dan Braha, Ali Minai and Yaneer Bar-Yam, Springer;

    Week 2
    Andriani, P. (2011), Complexity and Innovation, in Allen, P, Maguire, S. & McKelvey, B., [Eds], (2011), SAGE
    Handbook of Complexity and Management, Los Angeles, 454-470;

    Andriani, P., & B. McKelvey. (2010). Using Scale-free Theory from Complexity Science to Better Management Risk. Risk
    Management, An International Journal, 12(1): 54-82.

    Week 4 Andriani, P. & Mckelvey, B., (2011a),Using scale free processes to explain punctuated change in management-relevantphenomena, International Journal of Complexity in Leadership and Management,Vol 1, No 3, 211-249; Andriani, P. & Mckelvey, B., (2011b),From Skew Distributions to Power Law Science, in Allen, P, Maguire, S. &McKelvey, B., [Eds], (2011), SAGE Handbook of Complexity and Management, LosAngeles, 254-273;
    Week 5 van Eijnatten, F. M.(2004a). Chaordic SystemsThinking: SomeSuggestions fora Complexity Framework to Informa Learning Organization. The Learning Organization, 11(6), 430-449. van Eijnatten, F. M. (2008). A Toolkit for Phase Transitions. Proceedings of EuropeanChaos and Complexity in Organisations Network (ECCON) Annual Meeting, 17-19 October. Bergen-Ann-Zee. Zhu, Z.(2007). ComplexityScience, Systems Thinkingand Pragmatic Sensibility. SystemsResearch andBehavioural Science,24(4), 445-464.
    Week 6 Bak, P. & Chen, K., (1991),Self-Organised Criticality, Scientific American. January; Helbing, D. (2013),Globally networked risks and how to respond, Nature, vol. 497, no. 7447;
    Week 8 Bosch, O., C.N. Nam, T. Maeno, & T.Yasui, Managing Complex Issues through Evolutionary Learning Laboratories,Systems Research and Behavioural Science, 2013.
    Week 9 Meadows, D., (2008), Dancing with Systems,Donella Meadows Institute,

    Course Notes, Readings and PowerPoint Slides
    These are all available electronically for enrolled students by download from MyUni.

    Library Resources
    The University of Adelaide’s Barr Smith Library provides a range of learning resources including texts, journals, periodicals, magazines, and access to online databases and information services. It also offers a virtual library which is accessible via the University’s website.  The University Library web page is:
    From this link, you are able to access the Library's electronic resources.  

    Online Learning

    LEARN is the University of Adelaide’s platform for dedicated online delivery. LEARN is a customised version of Moodle, and houses all course requirements including the course profile, announcements, additional course materials (beyond the prescribed text), assessment items, discussion forums, grading, feedback, links to various university and course resources, an internal website email system, a technical assistance facility, etc. LEARN is only accessible once the URL and a password have been provided to the student on enrolment. Students are given access to the course prior to the start date to familiarise themselves with the operational aspects and functionality of the website.

  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    This course is offered in online mode.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    As a guide, a 3 unit course comprises a total of 156 hours.
    Learning Activities Summary
    Week 1 What is a Complex System?
    General Systems Theory
    Week 2 How Complex Systems Operate
    Examples of Complex Systems
    Directed, Acknowledged, Collaborative, Virtual
    Federated Governments
    United Nations
    Supply chains
    The Air Operations Centre
    Week 3 Ashby’s Requisite Variety
    Complicated and Complex Systems
    Edge of Chaos
    Chaordic Systems
    Week 4 Fractal and Power Laws
    Scale Free Behaviour
    Paretian Statistics
    Week 5 Panarchy and Cycles of Change
    Tiny Initiating Events
    Importance of Context and the Environment Driving System Structure
    Week 6 Self-organised Criticality
    Systemic and Cascading Risks Behavior
    Week 7 Phase Space
    Path History
    Attractor Cages
    Fitness Landscape
    Week 8 Systems Dynamics
    Bosch Approach
    Sense Making
    Leverage Points
    Week 9 Complexity Leadership
    How Leaders of Complex Organisations Think
    Dancing with Systems
    Systems Intelligence
    Week 10 Use of tools and techniques
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary

    An overview of the course assessment appears in the following Table. Details appear in the following section:

    #Assessment TaskLengthWeightingDue Date/WeekLearning Outcomes
    1 Discussion Contributions 20% Day 3-7, All weeks 1-6
    2 Assignment 1 1,500 words max 20% Day 7, Week 6 1-3
    3 Assignment 2 1,500 words max 20% Day 7, Week 7 4-6
    4 Assignment 3 (Group) 3000 words per group member 40% Day 7, Week 10 1-6
    Total 100%
    Assessment Related Requirements
    Students must complete all course assessment requirements and must attend all lectures to be eligible to pass the course. 

    Course results are subject to moderation by the ECIC Board of Examiners.
    Assessment Detail
    Assessment 2: Individual Assignment 1
    Weighting: 20%
    Submission Details: Online
    An electronic copy of this report is required. Preferably any documents created under Excel or Microsoft Project should be included in the Word version of the electronic copy.

    Analyse one of the following examples and report:

    Analyze one of the examples provided below and report: Why the situation is complex; How you would identify what the issues are; How you would coordinate action; What tools you would use from the set provided in this course.

    Examples to choose from:

    1. An example of a complex system of your own choosing (discuss with the lecturer).
    2. Dealing with traffic congestion in a major city;
    3. Introduction of the National Broadband Network
    4. Addressing climate change across a group of countries;
    5. Security at a G20 meeting;
    6. The task of the European Central Bank;
    7. Pre-disaster preparation by communities;
    8. Addressing corruption in trade;

    Length and Presentation:
    1500 words max in report format.

    Criteria by which your assignment will be marked:
    Are given in Module 0.

    The objective of these questions is for the participant to consider the material supplied and relate it to a real project example. Therefore, evidence of having read and understood the material is important. Marks will be given for the comprehensiveness of the content, evidence of additional reading, and referencing the course readings and other literature.

    The word limit is set to ensure you learn how to express yourself concisely; this is an important skill. There will be penalties for exceeding the word limit. Quotations do not count in the words counted.

    Assessment 3: Individual Assignment
    Weighting: 20%
    Submission Details: Online
    An electronic copy of this report is required. Preferably any documents created under Excel or Microsoft Project should be included in the Word version of the electronic copy.

    In preparation for dealing with complex projects:a. Why do we study complexity when the general systems model, and a reductionist approach, offers a simpler model? b. What are the consequences if we do not recognize complexity and provide two examples to illustrate your points; c. Comment on the use of PMBOK to manage the following projects: The current and recent ISIS invasion of Iraq & Syria; Solving disputes between warring nations; Reduction of corruption; A problem with a personal friend and partner (F:F, M:M, M:F); Analyse the systems that affect teenage development? How can a parent manage it? A close long-term personal relationship

    In addressing this question:
    • Describe the problem context
    • Analyse and comment on why the issues is complex
    • Discuss your recommended choice of methods to understand the issue better
    • Choose tools to manage the issue and describe how you would operate these
    • Describe how the project manager exercises governance

    Length and Presentation:
    1500 words max in report format.

    Criteria by which your assignment will be marked:
    Are given in Module 0.

    The objective of these questions is for the participant to consider the material supplied and relate it to the questions. Therefore, evidence of having read and understood the material is important. Marks will be given for the comprehensiveness of the content, evidence of additional reading, and referencing the course readings and other literature.

    The word limit is set to ensure you learn how to express yourself concisely; this is an important skill. There will be penalties for exceeding the word limit. Quotations do not count in the words counted.

    In answering these questions try and state principles as well as detail. Just transcribing material is not enough!

    Assessment 4: Group project plan
    Weighting: 40%
    Submission Details: Online
    An electronic copy of this report is required. The report need only be submitted by one group member but ensure all names are clearly included. Preferably any documents created under Excel or Microsoft Project should be included in the Word version of the electronic copy.

    Form groups and select a complex system problem. (Note: Make sure it conforms to the definition of ‘complex system’ given in this course.)

    Describe the system or problem in detail covering political, economic, social, cultural, technological, legal and environmental aspects. Outline the context of the problem including its interactions with external systems and the major characteristics that will impact your choice of methodologies, methods, tools, techniques and processes.

    Develop an approach to managing this system or problem using concepts and methodologies taught in this course and other relevant approaches. Prepare the outline of a project plan that describes how you propose to implement improvements to the system of interest in order to achieve your desired outcomes.

    Length and Presentation:
    3000 words per group member

    Criteria by which your assignment will be marked:
    This assignment will be assessed upon how well you are able to present a project plan that meets the requirement defined in the Task (above).

    All text based assignments must be submitted via Drop Box in LEARN
    There are a few points to note about the submission of assignments:

    • Assignment Submission: Assignments should be lodged via Drop Box in the LEARN system. Please refer to individual assignment tasks for specific submission details relevant to each task. Note that assignments may be processed via TURNITIN, which is an online plagiarism prevention tool.
    • Cover Sheet: As part of your assignment, please add the completed University of Adelaide Assessment Cover Sheet to your assignment, providing details of yourself and your team members (if applicable), your assignment, the course, date submitted, etc. as well as the declaration signed by you that this is your (your team’s) work. Note that the declaration on any electronically submitted assignment will be deemed to have the same authority as a signed declaration. Where applicable, also include the word count excluding title pages and references.
    • Backup Copy of Assignments: You are advised to keep a copy of your assignments in case the submitted copy goes missing. Please ensure that all assignment pages are numbered. If your assignment contains confidential information, you should discuss any concerns with the Course Lecturer prior to submission.
    • Extensions of Time: Any request for an extension of time for the submission of an assignment should be made well before the due date of the assignment to the Course Lecturer. Normally, extensions will only be granted for a maximum of two weeks from the original assignment submission date. Extensions will only be granted in cases of genuine extenuating circumstances and proof, such as a doctor’s certificate, may be required.
    • Failure to submit an assignment on time or by the agreed extension deadline may result in penalties and may incur a fail grade. Note that a late penalty of 5% of the total available marks for that assessment item will be incurred each day an assignment is handed in late (Unless otherwise stated in 'Assessment Related Requirements' or 'Assessment Detail' above). Assignments handed in after 14 days from the due submission date will fail even if a 100% mark is granted for the work.

    Resubmission & Remarking

    Resubmission of an assignment for remarking after reworking it to obtain a better mark will not normally be accepted.  Approval for resubmission will only be granted on medical or compassionate grounds.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

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