Cybernetic Systems Modeling

About the Course

You have just been assigned to plan a big project. Like the big bang, it connects everything in the universe, and it keeps getting bigger. Now what? How can you even get started? Such projects involve lots of "stuff", with lots of parts and relationships: technologies, organizations, software, hardware, supplies, and products. From the beginning, you are responsible for knowing what "stuff" is important. Despite not being able to understand it all, you still need to explain things clearly, build teams, correct misunderstandings, and make good decisions, right from the start. How can you do this?

Right from its start, project management has given a simple answer: systems modeling. From then 'til now, its basic family of modeling ideas has been cybernetic systems concepts: input, process, output, feedback; Plan - Do - Check - Act. Professional project managers tackle complexity by cybernetic systems mappings of it, progressively elaborated. These mappings inform the foundational PMBOK® Guide methodologies for planning scope, schedule, and cost, namely, the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), Critical Path Methodology (CPM), and Earned Value Methodology (EVM).

This course shows how managers use these cybernetic systems methodologies to progressively develop key outputs during waterfall or predictive planning processes. The course gives participants the opportunity to learn the modeling skills needed to plan effectively and in accordance with the PMBOK® Guide.

In the first part of the course, participants see how cybernetic systems concepts inform the PMBOK® Guide including its constructs, tools, techniques and planning methodologies. In the next part, they see from a case study how a manager uses WBS, CPM, and EVM methodologies to plan a single work package. They will also have a chance to see how popular cloud-based tools support such planning. In the final, capstone part of the course, they will use these cybernetic systems-based methodologies to conceptualize, plan, and estimate a work package from a project that is important to them.


Organizations in any economic sector with

  • project and operations managers
  • project sponsors, program and/or portfolio managers
  • a PMO (Project Management Office)
  • business trainers, facilitators coaches, instructors
  • members taking PMP® exam (any version)


  • None required
  • Recommended
    • background with any recent PMBOK® (e.g. Fourth or Fifth Editions)


    • experience as project manager, sponsor


6 hrs: 1 - 2 Sessions

Class Size

Maximum: 12 Participants


  • Provided: Workbook (c. 30 pages)
  • Recommended (not provided): any recent PMBOK® Guide


  • Overview of cybernetic systems concepts and modeling per PMBOK® Guide
  • A work package planned per WBS, CPM, and EVM methodologies
  • Continued learning plan re cybernetics systems modeling



  • Of Cybernetics Systems Theory and Applications
    • Japan's Quality Movement/Economic Miracle)
    • As foundation of Professional Project Management (PM)
  • Of Cybernetics Methodologies in Waterfall Project Planning
  • Of PMBOK® Guide Process Outputs: Models vs. Plans vs. Project Documents
  • Of Class Learning Activities and Tools
  • Of Case Study

Case Study

  • Review cybernetic systems models built by case manager as PM outputs
    • Models of Project Contexts: Performing Organization Enterprise Environmental Factors (EEF’s), Organizational Process Assets (OPA's)
    • Project Ends - PMBOK® Guide Outputs: Scope Statement; WBS; Dictionary
    • Project Means (Tasks) - PMBOK® Guide Outputs: Activity List
    • Project Resources - PMBOK® Guide Outputs: Resource Estimates; RBS
    • Project Team Activity - PMBOK® Guide Output: Project Schedule
    • Project Costs - PMBOK® Guide Output: Cost Performance Baseline

Capstone Task

  • By cybernetic systems modeling, plan a (1) work package of a key project
    • Scope Statement; WBS
    • Activity (Task) List
    • Resource Estimates; RBS
    • Work Package Schedule
    • Cost Performance Baseline

Continued Learning Plan


All Cogent Language courses are built according to a consistent design pattern: they have a learning path that is "cogent" to the needs of participants. We have found that, for our participants, a learning path is cogent when it is constructive, collaborative, cumulative, fast-paced, visual, and personal. Here's what makes this course cogent.


Given case study information, participants role play a project manager using the cybernetic systems constructs and methodologies of the PMBOK® Guide to plan a global project. Each participant then uses this practice to plan scope, schedule, and cost-performance baselines of a segment of a known project.


During the case study, participants role play the project manager as a team. In the capstone task, each participant conducts a walk-thru of individual work products with one or more coworkers.


In this course, the main learning activities are not topics presented by the instructor - they are tasks participants do. Each task builds on previous tasks and topics. In the case study, participants incorporate the work of teammates. In the capstone task, individual participants progressively elaborate their own work in a sequence of project management products.


In order to frame, address, and relate the topics in the ambitious agenda above, the course moves quickly. For follow up by individuals and/or teams, the workbook provides references to PMBOK® Guide and to cybernetics systems modeling resources.


Explanations and task work for the course are scaffolded by diagrams, tables, and other structural models in the class workbook and in the presentation of the instructor. Many class assignments make extensive use of sketching and whiteboards. The main planning tool and knowledge repository for the workshop case study - the project scheduler - is visual in essence.


For each group, the facilitator customizes agenda and interactions. As a capstone task, each participant selects a project that s/he considers important. She then plans scope, schedule, and cost-performance baselines for one work package from the project, assisted by coaching and group interaction. Group size is kept small so individuals can benefit from coaching. At the end of the course, each participant can develop a continued learning plan to bridge any gaps in her knowledge by way of a templates in the workbook, including references to specific terms of PMBOK® Guide and other sources of cybernetics systems modeling competence.