Doughnut Design for Business - Core Tool

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

Tool overview

This DEAL business tool is designed for running workshops with businesses. It sets out how businesses can engage with Doughnut Economics. This is the core version of the tool (for a ~5 hour workshop). There is also a shorter taster version (for a ~2 hour workshop). Ultimately, the core and taster tools are focused on workshops where businesses can use Doughnut Economics to guide their own journey of transformation. Separately, if you're a policy-makers or involved in business education, do check out DEAL's other tools.

Built for use by workshop facilitators, it guides businesses through an action-oriented workshop that is practical but ambitious, and aimed at catalysing innovations in their deep design. By focusing on the deep design of business, the workshop invites companies to engage in a transformative agenda of becoming regenerative and distributive in their strategies, operations, and impacts, so that they help to bring humanity into the Doughnut.

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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Central to the tool is the concept of enterprise design. This is explored through five design layers: a company’s Purpose, Networks, Governance, Ownership, and Finance. Here's a short video to introduce this concept, which facilitators running workshops with this tool can 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 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.


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.  


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.

Who it is for

The tool is for any facilitator of a workshop who is able to engage an individual business or group of businesses in exploring their deep design. The tool can be used by organisations or individuals who can gather multiple businesses for a workshop. It can also be used by those working within or with an individual business. 


The tool is designed to support workshops run by a broad range of people and organisations, including: business networks, start-up incubators, enterprise accelerators, think tanks, NGOs, certification organisations, business founders, trade unions, consultants, business schools, impact investors, community groups and thought-leaders and intrapreneurs within businesses.

For a list of consultancies and other organisations that have registered to run such workshops with their clients, see DEAL's Organisations in Action page here

How long it takes

The duration for a 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.

The format 

The workshop can be held in-person or online. 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.  

Materials you need 

The canvases that you need are provided both as printable pdfs and in an online Miro version (see Annex A towards the end of the slides). If you plan to hold the workshop in-person, you will additionally need a workshop space where you can share a presentation and work in groups, as well as basic workshop materials like sticky notes and pens. You can also run this workshop online, using video conferencing to present the slides and hold the discussions, alongside Miro to run the activities. 

What the facilitator needs to know

The key requirement is that the facilitator is enthusiastic and ambitious in exploring transformative ideas that challenge the possibilities of today’s business world, and is curious about the way that innovations in the deep design of business can unlock such ideas.

This tool shouldn’t be used to provide specific advice to businesses, but instead used to support and facilitate their journey. It is useful, however, if the facilitator is aware of some existing alternative enterprise designs that are relevant to participating businesses (e.g. employee ownership, social enterprise, steward ownership).

Facilitating will also require time to prepare and gain some familiarity with the businesses participating (e.g. their industry, legal form, board members, 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.

View DEAL's 2-part training webinar on running workshops for businesses with this tool: Part 1 video here, and Part 2 video here.

If you are a consultant or other organisation wanting to use this tool with your clients, make sure that you meet DEAL’s criteria (see DEAL’s policy for consultancies and professional advisors).

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’. 






    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

    Sara Norman


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

    Simon Robinson

    Coventry UK

    Contribute where I can to development of solutions that reverse the enormity of consumption of our planets resources

    Ken Novak 9 months 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 about 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 about 1 year ago

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

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    Erinch Sahan about 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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    about 1 year ago
    [comment deleted by user]
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    Karolina Medwecka-Piasecka 10 months 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 about 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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