Business & Enterprise

Transforming the deep design of business to enable regenerative and distributive action.

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When Business meets the Doughnut

To achieve the goal of getting into the Doughnut, we need to see businesses around the world embrace regenerative and distributive practices. This requires a transformation in the deep design of business, which is the focus of Doughnut Economics Action Lab in the business and enterprise theme.

The design of an enterprise shapes its priorities, how it engages with its surroundings and navigates decisions, who has power and voice when it comes to making decisions and where it invests and channels its profits. In other words, its purpose and networks, how it is governed and owned and the nature of its relationship with finance. To pivot business from being a force that focuses on extracting maximum financial value to one that generates maximum benefits, we need to innovate new ways to transform the design of business through these layers of enterprise design.  The ‘Purpose, Networks, Governance, Ownership, Finance’ framework we’re using at DEAL, inspired by the work of Marjorie Kelly, will be the focus of DEALs upcoming tool that invites businesses to apply Doughnut Economics through transforming their deep design. You can read more about the idea of transforming the deep design of business here.

Business and enterprise has been a theme of work we’ve been very careful with at DEAL. We are keen to protect the integrity of Doughnut Economics and ensure its potential remains truly transformative. For this reason, DEALs approach to business is focused on transforming the deep design of businesses in order to enable the bold actions required to get humanity into the Doughnut. Our approach to applying Doughnut Economics to business will not be through developing indicator frameworks or calculating targets or other important strategies for achieving change. Instead, Doughnut Economics focuses on unlocking the regenerative and distributive ideas that are currently held back by the deep design of business. We hope to see a multitude of innovations in enterprise design to enable the boldest solutions possible from the business world.

DEAL's Business Policy

The following principles apply to any business or enterprise, which we define as organisations that derive the majority of their revenue from trading activities (ie; the sale of products and services). This includes social enterprises, cooperatives, small enterprises, family companies, and multinational corporations, among other forms of business. The above also applies to advisors and consultants in their work with business clients.

In 2022, DEAL will publish a broader policy that applies to consultants and other enablers who can play a pivotal role in realising the transformational potential of Doughnut Economics. We will particularly focus on supporting the uptake of this work in a decentralised and distributive manner. This will not be via large, global and profit-oriented consulting firms but via values-aligned organisations who have a focus on regenerative and distributive economic transformation across their work.

How can businesses engage with the Doughnut?

Across our work, we at DEAL are aiming to balance openness with protecting the integrity of the concept of Doughnut Economics. This is particularly important in the field of business and enterprise where the concept is most at risk of getting greenwashed or co-opted. If that were to happen, Doughnut Economics would be devalued and discredited for all changemakers. To open this area of work in a transformative manner, DEAL is now creating its first main toolkit and accompanying guidance around how Doughnut Economics can be applied to businesses.

Until our main toolkit is published, the five principles listed below are DEAL’s policy applying to businesses (including consultants in their work with business clients) and to anyone engaging with the topic of business and Doughnut Economics. This currently limits the use of Doughnut Economics by businesses to internal reflections that focus on enterprise design. It also currently prevents public claims, trainings, workshops, events, tools and stories relating to business and Doughnut Economics. We recognise these limitations may cause some frustration but we are confident that the following principles will help us, together, to realise the transformative potential of Doughnut Economics as we fully develop our approach to business and enterprise.

(Last Updated: December, 2021) 

DEAL's Business Policy: the 5 Principles for Businesses

DEAL's asks of any businesses looking to engage with the Doughnut or Doughnut Economics
FOCUS ON ENTERPRISE DESIGN
Doughnut Economics can be used for internal reflection by businesses and their consultants where it is focused on regenerative and distributive enterprise design. This entails a deep reflection into the organisational design of the business itself and into the systemic changes needed if it is to become regenerative and distributive by design (as outlined in When Business Meets the Doughnut v.1). This internal reflection must be focused on aligning the design traits of the business itself, through its Purpose, Networks, Governance, Ownership and Finance.
NO ‘COMPANY DOUGHNUTS’
It is clear for DEAL that companies are fundamentally different to human settlements like cities and nations, where the Doughnut has been downscaled as an indicator framework. As such, it would not be an appropriate use of the Doughnut to apply it to companies in the same way that it is applied to cities and nations. For this reason, we ask that the Doughnut is not used in this way and instead focuses on enterprise design. If researchers or practitioners would like to propose other complementary ways to apply Doughnut Economics to businesses, we ask that they get in touch with DEAL before proceeding.
NO PUBLIC FACING CLAIMS ABOUT DOUGHNUT ECONOMICS
The Doughnut currently cannot be used publicly by businesses (including consultants in their work with business clients), whether for branding, on a website, in presentations, or in publicly available materials. References to Doughnut Economics in relation to businesses cannot in any way suggest that a business or initiative is aligned to or is implementing Doughnut Economics.
NO DOUGHNUT TRAININGS OR EVENTS RELATED TO BUSINESS
We ask that no organisation (whether a business or otherwise) conducts training, workshops or events on the application of Doughnut Economics to businesses (including by consultants in their work with business clients) until DEAL’s toolkit and guidance is published.
NO TOOLS OR STORIES RELATED TO BUSINESS
We ask that no new tools or stories are created on the topic of Doughnut Economics and business until DEAL has published its toolkit and guidance. In the future, we will welcome tools and stories created by DEAL community members that are consistent with the toolkit and the accompanying guidance we will publish.

Can the Doughnut be applied to entire sectors of the economy?

The Doughnut has primarily been used as a place-based tool, applying to human settlements like cities and nations, where the Doughnut has been downscaled as an indicator framework. Recently, there has been particular interest in applying the Doughnut to specific sectors like construction, fashion, food and health.

DEAL is collaborating with a small number of organisations to explore if and how this could work, taking particular care to ensure that Doughnut Economics does not become an indicator framework for individual businesses. These pilots will help experiment with the way in which the Doughnut can apply to sectors, with the goal of assisting them to identify the regenerative and distributive transformation needed across their sector.

We are in a period of exploring and learning how to develop an approach for applying Doughnut Economics to entire sectors that is aligned with the principles and transformative potential of Doughnut Economics.

We ask everyone intending to work in this space to first contact us so that we can continue to learn together.

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