The Finnish Debut of Doughnut Design for Business

Story about workshop for diverse industries exploring doughnut business solutions resulting varied, positive outcomes.

Reflections on the First Doughnut Design for Business Workshop in Finland

Jälleenrakentajat (co-op) is the first DEAL Organisation in Action of Finland and this is the story of the Doughnut Design for Business debut in the Finnish context.

Jälleenrakentajat announced the #doughnutbiz- workshop services in April 2023 and soon Strategy For Future -network contacted and wanted to organise an event about the green transition in the field of business. Later the event was planned as a doughnutbiz -workshop taster version organised on 3rd October in Helsinki Central Library Oodi. 

Although doughnutbiz -workshops are ideally for single organisations this was planned for people from different industries and organisations. This solution appeared reasonable also for promoting the doughnutbiz -idea, and service in the Finnish context.

The cooperation between Strategy For Future (the client) and Jälleenrakentajat was very reciprocal in planning the workshop and its marketing. The event was planned to be held in English to be open for participants with international backgrounds (Finnish people can speak English relatively well). We decided that the purpose of this event is to enable transformative encounters and peer support for sustainability agents in different organisations and to offer a space for doughnut-related ideation.

The event was planned as follows:


Part 1: The talk (Live and Online - Zoom)

12:45 Doors open

13:00 Welcome and opening words (Jonna Tötterman, Strategy for Future)

13:15 The talk: Doughnut Design for business (Valtteri Aaltonen, Jälleenrakentajat)

Part 2: The workshop (Live only)

14:15 Coffee break & vegan doughnuts (Local doughnut coffee shop)

15:00 The Workshop: Doughnut design for business – facilitated by Kimmo Hokkanen and Valtteri Aaltonen from Jälleenrakentajat with group work mentoring by professor of sustainable management Minna Halme from Aalto University.

18:00 The event ends

The tickets for the live talk and workshop were 120 € and for the online talk 20 €. The ticket prices covered the Jälleenrakentajat doughnut design for business training service, the room rent, and the local vegan doughnuts and refreshments. There was also a possibility to become a sponsor of the event. Joint Frontiers joined as a sponsor. People from Strategy for Future and Joint Frontiers promoted the event, created visual content, and acted as the organisers of the event.

In the end, there were 23 participants from more than 14 organisations in different industries & the organisers.

What happened in the event?

The Talk:

In addition to the official Doughnut Design for Business Taster version, the talk and workshop included some ‘spices’ (metaphors for the agency; card sets in the workshop) from Jälleenrakentajat. The seats of the live audience were organised in lecture hall style during the talk.

In the ‘Talk’ Aaltonen, first, presented the Jälleenrakentajat co-op and the DEAL criteria for organising doughnut-related workshops (limiting greenwashing, etc.) through ‘organisations in action’. Then Aaltonen introduced the doughnut (with a video) and invited participants to consider what kind of solutions would take us to the doughnut. All the participants had received a preliminary assignment to think about things that ‘disturb’ and ‘inspire’ them. These thoughts were utilized during the talk as an empirical foundation for metaphors of agency (fission and fusion) that Aaltonen and Jälleenrakentajat embrace in the designing of a doughnut-shaped business. 

The final part of the talk presented briefly the doughnut design for business as a tool. The interactive parts of the workshop were performed with the live participants after the ‘vegan doughnut break’.

The Workshop:

The facilitators Kimmo and Valtteri

As mentioned it is not ideal to deep dive into deep designs of business and redesign any organisation with a group of people with very diverse organisational backgrounds. However, we were curious to see what this process results. The ‘spices’ that Jälleenrakentajat brought to the table were card sets that Hokkanen had designed for ‘more productive and eco-socially aware meetings’. For the workshop part, the seats of the room were arranged around four tables.

The group was divided into four with the cards that were randomly given to participants when entering the room (clovers or clubs ♣, tiles or diamonds ♦, hearts ♥, pikes or spades ♠). The ‘suits’ of the cards guided participants to their tables where their group would work during the afternoon.

Also, the ‘root meditation’ that initiated the workshop is a signature spice of Jälleenrakentajat's work and workshops.

After the break at the beginning of the workshop part, the participants were reminded of regenerative and distributive ambitions as the foundation for the first task: the transformative ideas. What followed was a moment of meditation which guided participants to come up with transformative ideas listening to the ‘singing bowls’ sound environment.

After the participants had worked with their transformative ideas on yellow sticky notes the first canvases were brought to the table. Then the groups were guided to discuss the transformative ideas they had. 

In this interaction, they could use the following cards. 

  • ‘The Gardener’ is taking care of the space enabling the diversity of voices and experimentation in the group work.
  • ‘The Ambassador’ is a card or role for calling the voice of an absent representative (nature, future / past generations, or other marginal interest group).
  • ‘The Jester’ is a temporary role to ridicule and question some aspects of groups' work to problematize the direction the group is taking. 

In addition, there were ‘perspective cards’ and ‘soil cards’ for detaching the issues and debates in the groups from the persons that were present. 

When the groups worked with transformative ideas the mentor, professor of sustainability management Minna Halme from Aalto University, arrived. She visited all the groups to discuss ideas and redesign suggestions with her experience as a senior scholar in the field of sustainable business.

Then the second canvas was brought to tables together with different colored sticky notes. Now the focus was on blocking and unlocking deep designs of business, and what could be the first step in the journey towards doughnut-shaped business.

The groups resulted in varying ideas reflecting the people's backgrounds in different fields as could be expected. Here are the canvases of the group:

One of the groups focused on the issues that NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) create when employees are forced to be confidential and given a warning to speak freely about the internal information of companies. NDAs are used also in deals between companies and clients and there is a relationship to GDPR data privacy questions. Nevertheless, this was presented as a barrier to the transformation towards the doughnut as the members of the organisation became careful with their proposals in terms of NDA. This group suggested that ‘radical openness’ is a solution, and their first step was writing a template ‘Disclosure Agreement’ which requires radical openness from members of the organisation.

‘Disclosure Agreement’ canvas. Photo by Kimmo Hokkanen

Another group aligned cities operating much like businesses so they discussed how a city could transform into a place that lives and breathes a safe and just space of doughnut. Their first step was to write a story of the future city and what good life means. After the event participants discussed possibilities to build doughnut momentum in Helsinki and Espoo.

The redesigning of the deep designs of a city. Photo by Kimmo Hokkanen.

A theme that one group focused on was the dilemma that sustainability consulting is difficult because of barriers between different departments and the hierarchy of companies. Their suggestion was to have a workshop on regenerative business for the leadership of a company drawing a custodian model - i.e. to bring sustainability to the space where the business decisions are made.

The workshop on the custodian model of sustainability in the board structure. Photo by Kimmo Hokkanen

One of the groups had an interesting situation where a cause of solving continence-related societal issues was presented as a new, more nuanced problem to be solved than, for example, United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 6 on access to water and sanitation gives ground. In addition to this relatively macro setting, the relatively micro business design framings of the issue were examined, for example, where should the new company focused on continence-related solutions be located. In this group, the Gardener -card was utilised to guide the group towards more open-ended discussions than only continence topics, which was a field of expertise for one of the group members.

Mapping of the continence issue in the deep design for business canvas. Photo by Kimmo Hokkanen

Also, other groups gave feedback that it took a lot of time and effort to find common ground with other members of the group and this finding corroborates that doughnut designs for business workshops are best suited for a single organisation or very specific fields at the time.

The outcome?

The participants seemed satisfied with the event as a whole. Those participants who replied to  the feedback inquiry were in general satisfied or very satisfied with the Talk and Workshop. Complaints were that there was not enough time in the talk to describe the Doughnut Design for Business approach in more detail and to engage with deep designs, but this is partly related to the taster version and its summarizing nature. According to some participants, the Talk and the Workshop part felt disconnected. In terms of future doughnut workshops, the communication about the content of the event must be more specific especially what the doughnut model means as a framework, and possibilities for preliminary engagement with the subject via available materials must be provided for participants. 

In conclusion, the experience was encouraging and now we can say that the journey towards doughnut-shaped business in the Finnish context has officially begun.

Next, we will celebrate Global Donut Day 2023 together with the Wicked Community and many other local actors in Finland.

Find information about the next event via this link.




    Disa Kamula

    Tampere, Finland

    I am one of the founders of Jälleenrakentajat cooperative in Finland. I hope to find ways for intercultural collaboration.


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