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Know What You Don’t Know: How Great Leaders Prevent Problems Before They Happen by Michael A. Roberto

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2. Circumvent the Gatekeepers

“Bad news isn’t wine. It doesn’t improve with age.”

General Colin Powell

On November 21, 1970, fifty-six American soldiers conducted an audacious raid on the secluded Son Tay prisoner of war (POW) camp, deep in the heart of North Vietnam. The planning of the operation began in May of that year, when reconnaissance imagery showed evidence of soldiers being held captive at Son Tay. One intelligence official noted, “What really grabbed our attention was another pile of rocks that had been laid out in Morse code that said there were at least six men in that prison who were going to die if they didn’t get help fast.”1

Special-operations forces trained rigorously for this mission, rehearsing a remarkable one hundred ...

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