To thwart possible disruption, pundits give legacy companies such advice as “disrupt yourself before you get disrupted” or “put frontline employees in charge of strategy and execution.” This counsel is of little help. Military history offers a much better way to respond. We call it tempo-based competition.

In 1976, U.S. Air Force Col. John Boyd explained why American fighter pilots had a far higher “kill ratio” (10:1) than opponents in the Korean War. At the time, the commonly held belief was that U.S. pilots were much better trained. If this was true, then dogfight victories should have been evenly distributed among all U.S. pilots. They were not; a few pilots achieved most of the kills while the others had very few, none, or were shot down themselves.

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