Performance Management Blog

Flow and Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine: Driving Peak Performance
The basics of generating flow in performance

Here, we discuss the concept of FLOW and Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine: Driving Peak Performance, with a focus on team building and collaboration, both powerful tools to impacting workplace engagement.

The concept of flow, also known as “being in the zone,” is a state of mind in which a person is fully immersed in an activity and is completely focused and engaged. This state is characterized by a feeling of enjoyment, timelessness, and effortless action. Performance levels can also be very or exceptionally high and people generally love operating in this manner. It can also be learned.

Flow is a process of performing that I blogged about here:

Flow is associated with peak performance. When people are in a flow state, they are able to perform at their best because they are not distracted by thoughts of the past or the future. They are also able to use their skills and abilities to their fullest potential because they are not feeling anxious or adversely stressed.

There are three key conditions that must be met in order to achieve flow:

  • The activity must be challenging but not overwhelming. If the activity is too easy, people will become bored. If it is too difficult, they will become frustrated.
  • The activity must provide clear goals and feedback. People need to know what they are trying to achieve and how they are doing. This helps them to stay focused and motivated.
  • Players need to be focused on improving their skills.
  • The person must be fully immersed in the activity. They must be able to forget about their worries and concerns and focus solely on the task at hand.

We can increase people’s ability to access this Flow State by putting them in an environment where their performance flows, and then making them aware of this mental environment so that they can access it again. It can only really be cultivated through practice, skill improvement and intention.

Some of the common ways of people or teams achieving flow are:

  • Engaging in activities that they are passionate about. When people are engaged in activities that they enjoy, they are more likely to be able to enter a flow state.
  • Setting challenging but achievable goals, individually or as a team. This enables and empowers people to stay motivated and focused.
  • Removing distractions caused by poor systems and processes or other causes. When people are trying to achieve flow, it is important to eliminate as many distractions as possible. In a game, this means seamlessly operations.
  • Practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to the present moment without judgment. This can help people to stay focused and engaged in the activity at hand.


Teambuilding and Flow:

The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine is PMC’s team-building game that can teach the concepts of flow. We are led to believe that it is the best teambuilding game in the world for this and similar desired outcomes.

Dutchman requires concentration and teamwork among the players. The seamless design of LDGM, with the pressures of limited time, clear processes, attainable goals and the nature of the overall interactive environment is a simple way to create a desired operating environment.

Dutchman works into teaching the concepts of flow in several ways.

  • First, it provides players with a clear and challenging goal: “To mine as much Gold as we can.” This goal is challenging enough to be stimulating, but it is also attainable. Every team mines some gold, every team succeeds.
  • Second, the game requires players to use a variety of skills, including problem-solving, collaboration, and decision-making, all under time pressure. This helps players to feel a sense of mastery as they use their skills to achieve the goal.
  • Third, the game provides players with immediate feedback. As players make decisions and take actions, they see the immediate consequences of their choices. This helps players to learn from their mistakes, make adjustments and improve their performance.
  • Finally, the game is FUN and engaging. Players are motivated to play because they enjoy the challenge and the sense of accomplishment. This helps players to stay focused and immersed in the activity, which is essential for achieving flow. And they all succeed! They have a solid framework on which to reflect on individual and team behaviors to help optimize results.

In addition to teaching the concepts of flow, Dutchman teaches other valuable performance skills, such as teamwork, communication, and problem-solving. It engages players. And, collaboration measurably optimizes performance between teams, which is a great topic for focus during the debriefing. Interteam collaboration to optimize results is a primary distinctive feature of Dutchman over all other games in the marketplace.

   The game is an excuse to do a powerful, interactive, reflective debriefing.

Dutchman becomes a valuable tool for your team building and leadership development.

We have always viewed the play of the game as an excuse to do a focused debriefing on generating performance improvement, one leading participants to discuss key issues of change and a superb framework for which to look to do things differently.

Clean metaphors and a solid design lend itself to a memorable and fun event that can anchor a variety of performance improvement and leadership development opportunities.

Dr. Scott Simmerman, designer of The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine teambuilding game.Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant. He is a CPF and CPT and holds a doctorate in behavioral neuropsychology from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

You can reach Scott at

Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.

The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine is a trademark of Performance Management Company

Here is a link to a press release about The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine teambuilding exercise and its 30 years of positively impacting people and performance.

Dr. Scott Simmerman

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of the amazing Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine team building game and the Square Wheels facilitation and engagement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced global presenter. -- You can reach Scott at and a detailed profile is here: -- Scott is the original designer of The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine teambuilding game and the Square Wheels® images for organizational development.

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