Real-Estate developers experimented Donut Unrolled

Redman team practiced the Donut Unrolled Specific Topic tool on a major French office building project

I organised a 4h-workshop for part of the Redman real-estate developer team based mostly on the Donut Unrolled Focus Specific Tool.

How the workshop unfolded

We started the session with contextualising the emergence of the Donut Theory (Meadows report findings on the limits to growth, planetary boundaries, the SDGs and the wedding cake) and explained briefly several use case of the theory (countries, places, businesses, academics) emphasising on the way local governments are currently capitalising on the Donut Economics principles to design their public policies and projects (Brussels, Grenoble, Amsterdam, etc.).
 We then moved to the 4 lenses and dimensions of the Donut, from a real-estate development perspective. We had short Q&As sessions to check everyone understood the ideas behind each lens and dimension.
 We then dived into selecting a topic. The team agreed upon a major office building project in Paris’ immediate surroundings. 2 teams worked in parallel: one focused on the Local Economic (LE) lens while the other focussed on the Local Social (LS) one. Then I organised feedback on each lense to make collective intelligence work. And on with GS and GE lenses and feedback. This enabled us to go through the 4 lenses pretty rapidly. I had them then move to identifying interconnexions as a group. After a short guided meditative exercise, the team worked on the possibilities using the “what if…” sentence. Many interesting thoughts emerged from this phase, both at the project level and at strategic level for the company as a whole and for the industry (e.g. “what if all our materials were locally sourced?” which led to “what if we united with our competitors to structure the industry?”). 
 The workshop concluded with a roundtable to gather participants’ thoughts.


Participants’ thoughts

Participants were eager to understand how the Donut Theory could unfold in practice and were satisfied with the workshop. They found the tool very useful to explore directions at the beginning of a new project. They found it difficult to appropriate without being guided by an experimented facilitator. They aslo pointed the necessity for the company to give clear guidance on which direction they should pursue as developers given that clients are usually more focus on the end price of the operation than how the operation can help humanity get into the donut. They concluded the tool could be easier to use in cases clients are already well advanced in the ecological and social transition.


My findings

Applying this tool in a real-estate project proved very efficient to analyse the impact of a new building on a neighbourhood and its inhabitants. It also proved efficient in raising strategic concerns for the board of the company and the real-estate industry.

I found very useful to have read thoroughly Donut for Urban planning ahead of the workshop and encourage people who want to engage in facilitating workshops with real-estate companies to do so. It really helps raising the right questions and easing the discussions. 






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