April 14, 2021


Written by Dan Bradley

Whether you’re a survivalist, a casual outdoorsman, or a city dweller, you probably know that stagnant water is bad for you. It could be a small pond in the woods or a puddle on the corner of First and Main, but in either case, you probably shouldn’t step in it and you definitely shouldn’t drink it.

When water stops flowing, it can quickly become contaminated and serve as a breeding ground for all sorts of bacteria and parasites. It attracts insects that carry and transmit diseases. In general, it just gets nasty.

There’s no amount of Iodine tablets that would make me drink from stagnant water.

While “don’t drink stagnant water” is pretty good life advice, there’s an important parallel that you can draw between the stagnancy of water and the stagnancy of teams. Organizations, and teams within them, cannot afford to become stagnant if they want to compete in their industry.

Some of the reasons are obvious – if a company still offers the same products or services in 2021 that they did in 1991, then they probably aren’t very competitive in their marketplace (go ask Blockbuster). If the same employees sit in the same positions for decades, they probably aren’t open to innovation. If a company has kept the same website for a decade or more, I’d bet that they aren’t getting too much traction in the world of digital marketing.

The most important aspect, however, is in recruiting talent. 

The Talent War Group preaches that companies should be recruiting and pursuing top talent constantly. Stagnant companies won’t attract the best candidates. Like a puddle in a parking lot, they’ll attract the mosquitos of the working world – the type who is comfortable in complacency resists change, and fears the turbulence of progress. Top talent can see that from a mile away and will keep their distance. 

If a stagnant company does happen to attract top talent on occasion, the talent won’t stay long. Talented people want to be a part of something that pushes them to be better, which challenges them to take risks and think critically, which rewards them for pushing the envelope. Stifling them by accepting organizational stagnancy is as good as shoving them out the door. 

There’s no amount of compensation that will make top talent work for a stagnant company. They will refuse to drink that water, and if they make the mistake of taking one sip you can be sure that they won’t take another. 

Even small steps to create some positive turbulence in an organization can drive major benefits in resolving short-term, long-term, internal, and external issues while injecting some new energy into the team and challenging team members. Resolving stagnancy issues will invariably improve the health of an organization and set the foundation for positive progress.

Talent is constantly evolving, and effective Leadership inspires people to innovate, adapt, and achieve success.

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After graduating from the Air Force Academy, Dan served for over five years as an officer in the elite Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) community. He served both as a Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) and as a Task Force Advisor on a 2018 deployment in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. His expertise in selecting, developing, and leading effective small teams stems from his experiences as an Air Force Special Warfare Officer, both in training and in combat.
Dan partnered with the Talent War Group (formerly EF Overwatch) in 2019 and now works as the Director of Sales for Kahn Mechanical Contractors in Dallas, Texas. Dan holds a Master of Arts degree in Strategic Leadership from Saint Bonaventure University. He is passionate about mental health advocacy for the veteran community.

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