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News Stories · Negotiation

Hostage scenario at IMD

IMD debuts “Inside Risk” an interactive learning session on leading under pressure
March 2017

photo credit: Hayley Hay photography

What a can a life and death session teach you about leading under pressure?

300 executives and IMD alumni gathered at the Swiss business school to experience an innovative and interactive learning event based on a real life hostage crisis to find out.

The event entitled InsideRisk / Shadows of Medellin, incorporating film, multimedia, and live moderation, in which participants are required to make extremely challenging decisions under uncertain circumstances.

Based on the true story of Swiss executive J.P. Mottu, who in 1988 found himself in charge of saving a young engineer kidnapped by Colombian rebels, InsideRisk / Shadows of Medellin thrusts participants into real-life negotiations that have been kept secret for over 25 years.

Extreme decision-making

Thanks to a highly cinematographic treatment and a dynamic moderation technique, Shadows of Medellin participants are exposed to fascinating ethical and existential dilemmas. Through a series of sessions embedded in the course of the story, participants are required to deal with the core issues that J.P. Mottu faced in 1988– before discovering what J.P. Mottu actually decided to do in each case. For each decision that they make, participants record their choices, generating live discussion during the event.

“It was a strong experience that awakened many emotions. The striking elements that were presented required us to look deep inside to find answers. I would highly recommend it for anyone confronted with difficult decision-making,” said Bruno Studach Production Manager at PRECIstep SA and IMD alumnus, who attended the event at IMD.

“The case is an in depth journey inside…oneself! Each participant is in the driver seat. The format and content are unique and force each one of us explore our personal paradoxes, ambiguities and contradictions. It is a true story of leadership and an example of how to “walk the talk”. InsideRisk puts executives in direct opposition between their human and emotional dimensions with the cold, rational, detached …necessities of a life or death context. I left truly questioning my purpose,” said Jean-Luc Jolliet, Executive Career Advisor at Joilliet Advisory. “It was magical and inspirational”.

Educational and psychological expertise

Pioneering in the field of experiential learning, director-producer Edouard Getaz and IMD Professor and real-life hostage negotiator George Kohlrieser have been testing the event for 10 months, in various countries and contexts—including large scale private events and IMD’s High Performance Leadership program.  Ratings by participants have been outstanding. According to Rob Harper, Chief Technology Officer of Fitch Ratings, who has experienced Shadows of Medellin at the InsideRisk “Situation Room” in New York City, the event constitutes “a frighteningly realistic simulation of business risk and high stakes decision-making.”

A hostage negotiator, world renowned psychologist and best-selling author (Hostage At The Table, Dare to Care), Prof. George Kolhrieser adds an educational and psychological dimension to the overall experience, by integrating his theory of Secure Base Leadership, which applies the hostage metaphor to the corporate environment.


George Kohlrieser is Director of the IMD program
High Performance Leadership, which incorporates the Inside Risk learning experience.

Find out more about Inside Risk.

This event was organized in cooperation with the IMD Alumni Club of Switzerland – Lausanne

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