As either of these types of hidden informal relationships have the potential to significantly affect the decisions and actions of a collaboration, it is important to find and manage them (if necessary, assimilating them into a collaboration's acknowledged inter and extra-relational fabric). Doing this will achieve the following two things:
- It will lessen the probability of understandings and decisions originating from informal hidden relationships adversely affecting the progress of a collaboration (as was the case in the above mentioned example).
- It will increase a collaboration's resilience: it will enable a collaboration to identify and adapt quickly to changing contexts and partners' differing interests by blending the idealism and reassuring structure of formality with the realism and pragmatic flexibility of informality.
- Identify pre-existing relationships. Hidden informal relationships within a collaboration are often the continuation of pre-existing relationships between partners (as was the case in the example given above). A very natural and acceptable way of discovering pre-existing relationships is to meet with partners on their home turf. Photos, past project reports, staff stories and chat; your partners' meetings with long-term associates; chance meetings in corridors and canteens: all these things and more will point you toward pre-existing relationships that could continue within a collaboration, colouring partners' perceptions and attitudes and affecting their behaviour and decision making.
- Bring informality in from the cold. Create opportunities for hidden informal relationships to become visible and, if it is advantageous, assimilated within a collaboration. Holding regular and informal "scouting meetings", which invite a wide range of potential partners and others with an interest in a collaboration's work to attend and mix with each other, can often surface pre-existing relationships that can then be managed or assimilated as the need arises.