Doughnut Unrolled: Exploring a topic

A selection of approaches to explore a specific topic through the Four Lenses be it a policy, project or possibility

Version 1.0 (April 2022)

📢 Now translated into French, Spanish, German and Brazilian Portuguese


The goal of the Doughnut is to meet the needs of all people within the means of the living planet, but what does this mean for the neighbourhoods, cities, districts or nations where we live?

To help you explore this question we've created Doughnut Unrolled, a concept that takes us from the Doughnut to four 'lenses' that invite you to look at the interplay between local aspirations and global responsibilities in your place – both socially and ecologically – and identify possible entry-points for transformative action.

Unrolling the Doughnut

This tool - Exploring a topic - offers a selection of approaches to explore a specific topic for your place through the four lenses of the unrolled Doughnut, and identify how your chosen topic can help bring humanity into the Doughnut.

  • All pdf canvases available here

This content is hosted by a third party: Google Drive ( By clicking 'Show content' you confirm that you have read and agree to their Terms of Service.

By clicking below you also consent to the creation of a cookie so we can remember your choice for one month. See our Privacy Notice for our full cookie policy.

The workshops can be run in-person and online. For the online setting, we've created this canvas in Miro (password: fourlenses) that is designed for you to copy, or 'duplicate' into your own Miro account. If you don't have a Miro account, you can create one for free, very easily - that will give you space for three boards.

Exploring a topic online canvas in Miro

Exploring a topic is one of five Doughnut Unrolled tools that work together to apply the ideas of Doughnut Economics to your place:

Together they help you create a 'Doughnut Portrait' of your place - a holistic picture with diverse inputs and perspectives - that can act as a starting point for transformative action.

DEAL's set of Doughnut Unrolled tools

Whilst we are launching these tools in English we are also kicking off a process for translating all 5 tools into some languages and we will share more details of this in the following weeks.

Why use it?

Exploring a topic enables you to look at specific topic in your place - such as a sector, strategy, policy, project, initiative, object or idea - through the four lenses to build up a holistic picture of the interconnections of that topic across all four lenses.

Creating this holistic exploration can reveal how the topic helps, or could help, your place to thrive as well as seeing what role it might have in helping bring humanity into the Doughnut.


Who is it for?


Exploring a topic can be run as a workshop to bring many perspectives, ideas, experience and aspirations to the topic, or it can be used by an individual, or a small group, as a tool for analysis and exploration.
Important note: If you wish to use these tools as part of your consultancy or professional advisory services for others, then we require that you follow DEAL's policy for consultancies and professional advisors.


How long does it take?

If run as a workshop, you can do a quick taster workshop that takes 90 minutes, or you can do a half-day or full-day workshop that look at many topics. You can also build up a series of explorations on different topics over time, and begin exploring how they interconnect.

If you are using the tool for individual or small group analysis and exploration, you can start to map the topic across all four lenses in as little as 30 minutes. You can also keep building on this initial sketch to keep the exploration going for as long as you like.


How many people is it for?

For any one workshop, you'll need to think about how many people can meaningfully contribute. This will be dependent on the size of space you have, the number of facilitators you have, and how people will be invited to share their contributions; e.g. if you map all contributions to one large four-lenses canvas, then you will need to keep the number below or around 40, but if everyone is working in smaller groups with their own canvas, then numbers can be larger.


What materials do you need?

You'll need to prepare a canvas, either printed or created in-person, or via Miro if online.
You'll need ways for people to contribute their ideas to the canvas, such as sticky-notes or similar.


What does the facilitator need to know or be able to do?

The facilitator needs to understand the concept of the four lenses, so we recommend you read Introducing the four lenses first.
The facilitator also needs to design the flow of the workshop according to the needs of the group and the intensions you have for the workshop, e.g. to introduce how holistic thinking can be beneficial to connect things and see new opportunities.
In the tool we give some example workshop structures, but there a so many variations that we focused on showing some of the approaches you can take to use in your own workshop design.



This tool was created by Rob Shorter, Leonora Grcheva, Kate Raworth and Andrew Fanning of the DEAL Team, in collaboration with Ruurd Priester.

The four lenses builds upon the methodology of Creating City Portraits co-created with Biomimicry 3.8, Circle Economy, and C40 Cities.

We would like to thank the DEAL Community members who reviewed and tested this tool and offered feedback that helped in its development, including Mat Siffels of Amsterdam Donut Coalition, Ilektra Kouloumpi of Circle Economy, Jonas Boothe of Next Economy Lab (NELA) and Harvard School of Design. For anyone we’ve missed, thank you, and do let us know so we can acknowledge your contribution here.

We would also like to thank Iconmonster for the icons used.


  • All pdf canvases available here


Healthy living systems rely on good feedback loops and we invite your comments, reflections and suggestion from using this tool to help us iterate and evolve for future versions.

You can do this two ways:

  1. The first is to leave a comment in the section below called Join the conversation. The benefit of this approach is that everyone can see and benefit from what you share.
  2. The second way is to contact the DEAL Team directly via the contact form and choosing the category 'Tools and Stories'.

# downscale hashtag_lookup:#downscale # downscaling hashtag_lookup:#downscaling # unroll hashtag_lookup:#unroll # unrolling hashtag_lookup:#unrolling # portrait hashtag_lookup:#portrait # fourlenses hashtag_lookup:#fourlenses 







    Join the DEAL Community!

    Get inspired, connect with others and become part of the movement. No matter how big or small your contribution is, you’re welcome to join!