Want to gain a bit of Collaborative Advantage?

If you’re interested in partnership work within teams, between departments, in coalitions/alliances or commercial corporate arrangements, you’re in the right place.  Here’s what’s coming up – if you would like to partner with us in creating an event, please write or call.


Get the most out of partnership work
March 20th, Half day workshop (2-5:30pm), DeskLodge in Bristol 

How to make partnerships work really well
April  8th, Full day workshop (8:45-5:30) Campaigning Forum in Oxford

National Coworking Day
June 6th, all day, UK wide 

The Art of Leading Together
June 11th, Open Lecture (5:30-7:00pm) Institute for Leadership & Sustainability, Cumbria

Mike is also currently involved in supporting Collaborative Advantage initiatives with the following organisations.  Please write for more details.
Association of Sustainability Practitioners
FunkySpaces Network & European Coworking Assembly
Ubiquity University


Simon Sinek on Leadership

Liz arrived back from the World Government Summit in Dubai this month armed with a wealth of fascinating new knowledge, connections and ideas.  She spent time with John Helliwell, Jeffrey Sachs, Don Norman, Tim Kobe, Daniel Kahneman, Charles Montgomery  and Martin Seligman among others.  This simple expression from Simon Sinek though, strikes a real chord.  More on his presentation about Leadership in an infinite world anon.

“Leadership is not about being in charge,
leadership is about taking care of those in your charge”

Collaborative Advantage

Earlier this year I felt very pleased with myself for having come up with the phrase’ Collaborative Advantage’.  The phrase came to me in the context of conversations about competitive advantage, which I argued was only part of the story, and the weaker part at that.  My theme was (and is) that the most successfully competitive people are not the egoists, but the magnanimous.

I mentioned the idea to several people over the course of about 10 days, developing the idea as I warmed to my theme, thinking myself really rather clever.

Deciding I should write something about Collaborative Advantage, I sat at this machine and googled the phrase, just in case somebody had thought of it before.

Of course they had!  Twelve years ago, Elizabeth Lank wrote ‘Collaborative Advantage – how organisations win together by working together‘ which is pretty good but doesn’t acknowledge Jeffrey Dyer’s ‘Collaborative Advantage – winning through extended supplier networks‘ published in 2000.  But he was a laggard, compared to Siv Vangen and Chris Huxham whose research partnership stems from Chris’ book ‘Creating Collaborative Advantage‘ published in 1996.

All of them were beaten to publication by the rather brilliant Rosabeth Moss Kanter, who placed an article on ‘Collaborative Advantage – the art of alliances’ in the Harvard Business Review back in 1994.

I was thoroughly, comprehensively, utterly, beaten to it.   Worse yet, – Paul Skinner released ‘Collaborative Advantage – how collaboration beats competition as a strategy for successin June this year.

…only of course, it wasn’t worse at all – it was a real joy.

Thinking based in ideas of Collaborative Advantage is an antidote to the polarising effects of ego-centered competitiveness currently tearing politics, businesses and societies apart.   I for one, will do all I can to promote it, because I believe ‘winner takes all’ is a mindset with a built in self-defeating mechanism.

Let me know if you too are warming to the Collaborative Advantage theme – let’s take on The Competition!!


Report from ASP’s Great Wisdom Gathering

Here’s what happened at ASP’s Great Wisdom Gathering in Henley-on-Thames, facilitated by Mike Zeidler.

The gathering was attended by people from Sussex to Dorset. The rules of Open Space state very clearly that ‘whoever comes are the right people’, and so it was. Of the 17 due to attend, 12 made it, so there was more great wisdom than great numbers. Certainly the quality of the conversations was very good, and the topics covered wide-ranging.  There was a theme around joining things up, system models and collaboration, another about personal support, and a third about our relationships with nature.

The AGM turned out to be a great demonstration about the way ASP works as a learning organisation modelled as far as possible on ‘the way nature works‘. The form is self-evidently an association of people concerned about practical and applied sustainability. The clearly stated activities are all about supporting, challenging and connecting people on that journey in learning.  The directors went on to explain how they seek to keep everything ASP does as simple, as low cost, and as high impact as possible, and that as in nature, they remain constantly open, adaptive and emergent.

Someone proposed imposing a conceptual model on ASP as a way of showing it’s great power as a ‘the solution’ for change. What happened next was a joy to be part of.  There was a swiftly held, but deeply reflective debate in which everybody took part, surprising those who expected the directors to simply make a ruling. The group noted the shortfalls of a ‘yes/no’ voting system, explored more appropriate options, and ultimately rejected the proposal with supportive advice about other ways to achieve similar ends. As a test of ASP’s modus operandi, it was highly effective.   The proposer felt heard, valued, supported and understood – the organisation maintained its integrity in the face of a challenge to its principle of continuing openness.

​We reminded everyone there’s an open invitation from ASP for associates to become Directors. Two people expressed an interest which the current Directors will explore with them in the coming months.

All in, it was a good day with about 1/3 of those present experiencing an Open Space meeting for the first time.  If you were considering coming, but couldn’t make it, here’s what they had to say about it:  “I loved the discussions with interesting people going any direction”, and “It was a very easy flowing day with no agenda or objective – very refreshing for a lawyer!”;  “I loved the increasing openness, awareness, connection and change/options of the event”; “The human discursiveness and feeling [was good]”, and “I loved the openness and Oneness”
We hope to see you next time!

What’s YOUR Challenge?

Joe Munroes calif phonebox 1959Got a vision you want to achieve collaboratively? Inclusive leadership is incredibly rewarding, but it’s easy to get it wrong.

People often assume there’s a straight trade-off between efficiency (or speed) and inclusivity, because it takes more time to sift through ideas, prioritise, agree actions and decide how to see them through.  It’s certainly true we all get tangled up in problem solving from time to time, and the potential for getting truly tied up in knots goes up dramatically when more than a few people are involved.

When things get more complex, they tend to get a LOT more complicated very petaminxfast. Each team member will have their own thinking preferences, and organisational culture/leadersip style will also the number of factors you’re trying to take into account – the culture layers of

it’s also the variety of thinking preferences and in every team. Things get messy, stuck or even break down completely unless there are great communication practices in place.

sixpenceeeThe key to navigating complexity start to get it’s vital to tune into the balances at work.  Simplify a problem too far and you have clarity, but it’s not very real. Factor in everything you can think of, and it’s likely to be impossibly messy.  Feels like a Catch 22.


BUT with a good process set up from the start, it works out fine.

That’s where we can help.  As well-informed facilitators, we know a lot about the way people and organisations work and learn.  We take great pleasure in helping groups find clarity & ease in working together to solve complex problems  so it becomes an exhilarating experience.

If you need to find that sweet spot, send your challenge to mike.zeidler@modoto.co.uk or call 07836 706978 – we’ll offer some initial thoughts and a quote for free.

Art of Cosmic Thinking In Action

Spotlight spectrum smlrOn July 22nd 2016, we put on the UK’s second ‘Art of Cosmic Thinking’ event, building on feedback from the debut in Manchester back in May.   The word cosmic comes from the word cosmos, meaning ‘the universe as a complex and orderly system’ and the talk explored how to hold the tension between keeping things simple and keeping things real.

Having stimulated minds with this introduction, we created an Open Space for everyone there to explore their own ideas. Click here to see what went on.

Wanted: New Leadership – apply within

Burned Forest header







When things go wrong and people are angry, the natural tendency is to look for someone or something to blame.  We hold a public inquiry to make sure we know who’s fault it was, why it went wrong, and to make sure it never happens again.

The anger is stoked into a blaze of blame which gets so hot we step back from our own responsibilities.  Instead of looking at ourselves, we glare at the unfortunates tied to the stake while opportunities for useful learning get incinerated.

Right now, there’s a scorched clearing where political leadership used to be. We’re all desperately keen to see hope rise from the ashes and need to see something new. Our own public inquiry distilled into two questions – who now? and what could be different?  To see what we found, read the full article here.