Doughnut Design for Business - Core Tool

DEAL’s guide to redesigning businesses through Doughnut Economics - Core workshop

Tool overview

This is a workshop tool that allows companies to understand and engage with Doughnut Economics. It is a journey into transforming the deep design of business (e.g. their ownership and governance) to ensure the business can pursue the strategies, practices and business models needed to help humanity into the Doughnut. The tool is based on two core questions:

  1. How does the design of your business block transformative action?
  2. How could a redesign of your business unlock transformative action?

Below is the tool. You can also view the tool here as Google Slides or download it as a PDF here (or see Downloads section below).

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The enterprise design focus

Any business hoping to engage with Doughnut Economics can only do so through a focus on enterprise design, which is the central focus of this tool. This is explored through five design layers: a company’s Purpose, Networks, Governance, Ownership, and Finance. Below is a short video to introduce this concept, which facilitators running workshops with this tool may also choose to use within their workshop.

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These design layers powerfully shape the strategic decisions and operational impacts of businesses, and ultimately determine whether or not businesses can transform to become part of a regenerative and distributive future. By diving into the five layers of deep design, this tool reveals both design blockages that prevent transformative action, and design innovations that can unlock its possibility. Over 300 businesses participated in the creation of this tool, through 22 pilot workshops co-hosted by Doughnut Economics Action Lab. It has since been further refined following feedback from dozens of registered facilitators who are using this tool to run workshops with businesses around the world.

Who it is for

It is primarily for people working with business leaders and entrepreneurs who can use the tool to facilitate workshops. These include:

  • Consultants & coaches
  • Business networks
  • Investors & banks
  • Start-up incubators
  • Business Schools, NGO’s, certifiers, lawyers, advisors & others who work directly with businesses

Business leaders can also use this tool, especially executives, owners and board members. They are free to use this for internal reflection. Or they can find facilitators who are registered to use the tool with their clients on DEAL's Organisations in Action page here

Which facilitators are suitable

Above all, this tool is for people who want to use Doughnut Economics to transform business. These are people who have:

  • Interest in  turning Doughnut Economics from a radical idea into transformative action in the world of business
  • Ambition and curiosity to propose new ways to design businesses
  • Agency to influence the design of businesses, from the outside or from within the business

Facilitating will also require time to prepare and gain some familiarity with the businesses participating (e.g. their industry, legal form, governance, reporting of impacts). 

Importantly, the facilitator should be skilled in guiding businesses through the journey of exploration and comfortable with complexity, with encountering defensiveness or frustration from some participants, such as: limitations around what they can change, and their desire to be provided practical advice.

If you are a consultant or other organisation wanting to engage your business clients or members on Doughnut Economics, you will first need to register with DEAL as an Organisation in Action.

What the tool includes

  • A set of materials to run workshops on Doughnut Economics for businesses. This includes slides, activity canvases, examples, guidance and pre-recorded training webinars for new facilitators.
  • Materials for a longer 5 hour version (core tool) and a shorter 2 hour version (taster tool) of the workshop.
  • Translations of the materials for the Doughnut Design for Business Core tool, available in French, German, Portuguese and Spanish.
  • Separate tools for those shaping public policy and business education to guide their approach of using Doughnut Economics to engage with businesses.
  • A community of practice of people and organisations engaging with business through Doughnut Economics, which includes regular DEAL-led webinars and an emergent peer-to-peer support network of practitioners.

What is unique about this tool

The Doughnut Design for Business tool is:

  • the only way for businesses to engage with Doughnut Economics
  • deeply transformative, context-specific and but can be applied to any business
  • a pragmatic tool that hopes to foster diverse and context-specific designs that help businesses to overcome real barriers that block ambitious action
  • accessible and works intuitively - without prescribing specific designs or models
  • free for use by businesses for internal reflection, and for professional use by registered values-aligned organisations who work with business clients and are willing to contribute to the emergent community of practice

Duration, format & materials

The duration for this core tool workshop is suggested as 4-5 hours. It can be broken up into two or more sessions, and can also be extended to give additional time for the activities and related discussions. There is also a shorter taster version (for a ~2 hour workshop).

The workshop can be held in-person or online. Activity canvases are available in Annex A as both printable pdfs (for in-person) and on Miro (for online workshops). See Annex A towards the end of the slides.

Some workshops will bring together multiple companies, while others will bring together a group from within a single business. All activities across this tool can also be conducted in pairs or by an individual applying it to their own business.  Some key considerations and options are offered at the end of the tool. 

Adaptation options

For businesses to engage with Doughnut Economics means they explore their own deep design. Around this core focus, there are ways facilitators can adapt their workshops. For instance, Annex E provides ways to incorporate additional activities and concepts, consider ways participants can prepare for and follow-up on the workshop. Critically, it also provides alternative slides for running workshops with start-ups.

Training resources for facilitators

View DEAL's 2-part training webinar on running workshops for businesses with this tool:


The Doughnut Design for Business core tool, and the accompanying paper are now available in French, German, Portuguese and Spanish via this folder. Note, this is an official DEAL translation of the initial version of the tool as launched in November 2022, and there have been a few minor updates in the English version. The slides contain all the activities in the translated language, but the links to the Miro and PDFs of the activity canvases will take users to the English versions of the canvases. Across the translated versions, if you spot any errors that need correcting, please let DEAL know via our contact page by selecting the Business and Enterprise theme and sharing a message.


The tool is accompanied by a paper, What Doughnut Economics Means for Business, which contains background context and further detail on the core concepts as well as additional examples of business design. The paper was co-authored by DEAL and Centre for Economic Transformation. To read the paper, click here or see the Downloads section below.  

DEAL's policy for business

To balance openness with protecting the integrity of the concept of Doughnut Economics, DEAL has created a policy applying to businesses (including consultants in their work with business clients). This policy contains seven main principles:

  1. Focus on the deep design of business
  2. No ‘company doughnuts’
  3. Public facing claims only about redesign of business
  4. Doughnut and business events must be based on the tool
  5. Additional guidance welcome but, for now, no new tools related to business
  6. Share back learnings from using the tool
  7. Propose case studies of businesses

The annex of this tool contains the parts of this policy that are most relevant to those using this tool. This includes the ask that those using the tool to work with businesses register on DEAL's platform as an organisation in action and share back insights about the workshop with the DEAL Community. The tool contains additional guidance on how facilitators can share back.

We also invite businesses to propose case studies about their redesign around the goals of Doughnut Economics. To submit a case study, please connect with us through the DEAL contact form, choosing the category 'Tools and Stories' and theme ‘Business and Enterprise’. 






    Daniela Borodak

    Clermont-Ferrand, France

    The doughnut economy is a source of inspiration for my teaching! I hope this community helps me to answer the questions I'm consta


    Nice, France

    I want to learn about the DEAL tools and spread it by co-facilitating workshops with companies and territories.

    Iva Stanisheva

    Ivan Vazov, Sofia

    Care for the environment and the urgent need of our society to redefine our relationship with economics.

    Francine Tavares

    Gold Coast

    I'm a circular thinker, leading sustainability and ESG strategies at Conexus.Earth, an Aussie consultancy tracking sustainability

    Dorothée Lamé-Laroche

    Nice, France

    I am convinced the Donut can help organisations shape a better future and I want to spread the Donut practical tools to do so.

    Sara Norman


    I want to explore new thinking/reasoning together with others.

    Ken Novak over 1 year ago

    When you mention the obstacles/challenges of “outdated models”, one aspect that embeds itself in every model is language.  I think we can never underestimate the power of language.  When we talk about distributive versus divisive, an opponent immediately “goes to the juggler” with “you are talking about ‘socialism’”, and quickly tries to shut down the dialogue.  I teach business ethics at a Catholic university, and I try to sensitize my students to this very effect.  We read Milton Friedman’s NYT article (09/13/1970) where Friedman propounds that corporate social responsibility is to make profit, and anyone who disagrees aligns herself/himself/themself with “preaching pure and unadulterated socialism.”  Friedman underscores this point by asserting, “Businessmen who talk this way are unwitting puppets of the intellectual forces that have been undermining the basis of a free society these past decades.”  In America, one of the first House of Representatives resolutions of 2023 is  “Denouncing the horrors of socialism.”  The point is not that Donut Economics is socialist, it is that we must recognize one of our strongest counter-currents is the way certain terms immediately create an “us” vs. “them” arena, rather than a forum for creative synthesis.

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    ger pepels over 1 year ago

    Thanks for all the information. Really valuable. Interested to explore the relationships with Economy for the Common Good as well. 
    The links in the pptx don't work properly after downloading. Am I the only one having this challenge? 

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    Claudine Perlet over 1 year ago

    No, I'm having the same problem. The doc does not open. 

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    Erinch Sahan over 1 year ago

    Hi Ger and Claudine, thanks for your interest. We've corrected the link so it downloads as a pdf now. Hope this works smoothly for you.

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    over 1 year ago
    [comment deleted by user]
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    Karolina Medwecka-Piasecka over 1 year ago

    I asked Kate the question several years ago now and she said they are complementing each other. Christian Felber certainly went ahead in terms of his thinking behind financing and focused on creating an alternative banking system. I really like his Common Good Matrix - I think it is useful in that it shows clearly where the blocks are and what is easier for companies to achieve versus what is harder but, if done right, is truly transformative, i.e. ecological design of products (easier) vs reduction of environmental pollution, planned obsolence/short lifespan of products (harder). 

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    David Brühlmeier over 1 year ago

    I'm very excited that this tool is now available for broad use. Thank you for all the work that led to this important milestone!

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