Maintaining some flexibility in how the work unfolds supports a healthy give-and-take among partners. Political, administrative, and fiscal realities significantly influence timing, working arrangements, and when and how research is used. In some contexts, lean funding environments can further shape partnership priorities and how the research agenda proceeds.
Flexibility also requires consideration of relationship dynamics within the partnership. While it is important to stay in your lane, researchers are also often called on to be implementation advisors, reviewers, and technical assistants on projects. Partners on both sides must operate in multiple modes, balancing responsiveness with core roles and responsibilities.
Agency partners can demonstrate flexibility by integrating research partners into day-to-day operations as much as possible. This level of engagement involves time-intensive work, including orientation, scheduling, and supervision of research associates, but it is critically important to ensure that the research agenda is aligned to realities on the ground.