Doughnut Economics

This is one of the most positive things I’ve seen in ages.  It is hopeful.  It is logical.  It is brilliant.  But I don’t think it will happen.

Yes, there really is something called doughnut economics.  It is the concept of Kate Raworth, and idea born in Cambridge and currently used in Amsterdam as a way to reimagine their city post-pandemic.

Here’s what Amazon says about her book, Doughnut Economics, “Economics is the mother tongue of public policy. It dominates our decision-making for the future, guides multi-billion-dollar investments, and shapes our responses to climate change, inequality, and other environmental and social challenges that define our times.

Pity then, or more like disaster, that its fundamental ideas are centuries out of date yet are still taught in college courses worldwide and still used to address critical issues in government and business alike.

That’s why it is time, says renegade economist Kate Raworth, to revise our economic thinking for the 21st century. In Doughnut Economics, she sets out seven key ways to fundamentally reframe our understanding of what economics is and does. Along the way, she points out how we can break our addiction to growth; redesign money, finance, and business to be in service to people; and create economies that are regenerative and distributive by design.”

Watch her very relevant and practical explanation of Doughnut Economics here.

Ms. Raworth says she is often asked…”What is this?  Is it Capitalism? Is it Socialism? Is it Communism?

Her response?  “Really, are those the only choices we have?  The isms of the last century?”

Bravo Ms. Raworth.

The city of Amsterdam is so enamored with the idea of reinvention that they are assembling stakeholders from all areas of government, community, and business to talk together and challenge old paradigms.

So, we’re moving to The Netherlands….just kidding…maybe.

The process Amsterdam is using is called “large group intervention,” a process used for decades intended to engage the whole system in rapid change.  This isn’t new.  Theorists in change like Peter Senge, Margaret Wheatley, and others who have proven that this process works have moved on from the US.  They are having success with countries who are actually interested in change.

Take a listen to the video, and read a bit about Ms. Raworth’s concept. Then close your eyes and imagine how the concept would work in the US.  Yeah, well we can dream.

Call me Don Quixote, but I’m going to write a letter to my local, state, and national representatives and share the Doughnut Concept and suggest that they would be well served to give some thought to real change. Probably won’t help, but it will keep me busy until I can figure out something else to do with sharing this concept widely.


Carol Anderson
Carol Anderson
CAROL is the founder and Principal of Anderson Performance Partners, LLC, a business consultancy focused on bringing together organizational leaders to unite all aspects of the business – CEO, CFO, HR – to build, implement and evaluate a workforce alignment strategy. With over 35 years of executive leadership, she brings a unique lens and proven methodologies to help CEOs demand performance from HR and to develop the capability of HR to deliver business results by aligning the workforce to the strategy. She is the author of Leading an HR Transformation, published by the Society for Human Resource Management in 2018, which provides a practical RoadMap for human resource professionals to lead the process of aligning the workforce to the business strategy, and deliver results, and writes regularly for several business publications.

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  1. “Can we ever come together, really, and fulfill that dream of being a place for everyone?” My two cents, I think it was a dream for some, but not for all. The divisiveness was there at the very beginning. Washington warned against special interests. (the NY Times has an article just this morning about the new creatures in the swamp that Trump has never drained — only added to.) With two degrees in history and having been a high school history teacher, I can tell you with assurance that we have an ugly past. Do we have things to be proud of? Certainly. But we’ve never come to terms with who we really are. People want to wave flags and sing patriotic songs, but the fact remains that we must own systemic intolerance.

    That said, I bought her book. I want to know more about it. To your point, maybe it has application on a small, local scale. I’m grateful that you brought my (our) attention to it.

    • Hi Jeff – it was an interesting thing, deciding whether to share this article. A friend with family in the Netherlands put it on FB and there was very little attention there. I’d never seen or heard of it outside that instance. My husband had a conflicting reaction to it, but I thought it worth sharing so I went ahead and wrote the post to send to Dennis. Mark O’Brien had a similar comment to my husband’s over on LinkedIn – who’s gonna pay for it. And I felt a little sheepish then, but stayed true to my plan to generate dialogue. The reality is, no plan is great – it is the dialogue that dives deeply into the details and finds nuggets of common ground that allows a draft plan to become great.

      I am only now – late in life – finding myself fascinated by history. I found it hopefully boring when I had to study it. Popular literature like Hamilton makes it about the lives and decisions of the people which talks to me. Now I want to learn the real details. As I’m reading about the years of Washington’s presidency, it strikes me that special interests have always been devisive and created factions that subtly war with each other. Nothing subtle about today’s special interest but it makes me realize how fragile our country is BECAUSE we want to be inclusive. That was a revelation to me.

    • Mark’s comment is interesting because at this point, we don’t even know what “it” is? I’m really curious just to find out more about it. It may be a while before I can get into the book. Lots going on. Would be interesting to structure a book study around it – just for fun and interaction with other curious minds.

    • Jeff – I think a lot of people approach it as Mark and my husband do – as a whole plan. I am a strong iNtuitive (Myers Briggs) and first see the big picture, then go to the details that interest me and gloss over everything else (why I was a bad history student – there was never a big picture). I think there are nuggets of ideas in the doughnut concept. The harder part is generating the meaningful dialogue – I like your idea of a book study

  2. Carol — Thank you for sharing this! Powerful. I’m moving to Amsterdam! (Actually I wouldn’t mind moving at all. One of the best vacations I ever had was spent there – 11 days getting to know that city and its people. But watch out for the bikes! I’m going to toss this back to Dennis, as it deserves a wider view. Did you read the book?

    • Sorry, meant to add, Raworth calls out the major stumbling block to any strong movement on this right at the end of the video:

      “Change is absolutely possible if we transform the political values and interests and the mindset.” That will be one heavy lift in a society that is much more heterogeneous than the Dutch’s.

    • Jeff, thanks for the comment and you’re right – our county has such diverse interests that this would be difficult. The first thought I had when I read it is that possibly it could be an opportunity on a small scale, like a Florida community that is struggling with everything from rising seas to too many people. It does sound utopian and undoable, and maybe we are destined (or doomed) to infighting into perpetuity. After watching Hamilton, (and reading up on the real history behind it) it was interesting to realize that infighting isn’t new – the different interests of the United States have caused conflict for as long as we’ve been a country. Can we ever come together, really, and fulfill that dream of being a place for everyone?