30 circles exercise play invitation

Congratulations! You’ve made it. You got to Day 30 of the 30 Days of Play. While you quite possibly missed a day or 3 along the way, it’s pretty impressive that you made it to this page. Well done.


This exercise is called the 30 Circles Exercise. It was invented by Robert McKim, Professor Emeritus of Stanford’s Department of Mechanical Engineering.

There are three toggles below. The first contains the instructions / directions. We encourage you to complete the 30 Circle Exercise before clicking on the evaluation toggle.

Above all, have fun and enjoy the activity.


  1. Download and print this blank 30 Circles Challenge page.
  2. Use the blank circles to draw as many recognisable objects as you can in three minutes. While we’ve completed the first circle as an example, you DON’T need to use it as a theme or an idea starter. You can just start the clock and begin drawing,

For some people it can also be very useful to have something in mind. A logo you need to draw, a piece of writing you need to do, a problem you need to solve. A sales challenge you have. Or you can just free-wheel and see where you go and end up.

Once you’ve completed the exercise, click on the EVALUATION toggle below and have a read.


The exercise was originally created to assist with Fluency and Flexibility.

FLUENCY: Describes thinking of many, many ideas. These ideas do not have to be unusual or very different to each other. When we use fluency, we try to generate as many ideas as we can in a few minutes.

FLEXIBILITY: Means thinking of different kinds of ideas. When we think flexibly, our minds easily hop or jump from one category of ideas to another. This way of thinking is commonly called, ‘divergent thinking’.

  • How did you do with regards to the quantity or fluency of ideas? Most people don’t complete all 30 circles in 3 minutes.
  • How did you do with regards to the diversity or flexibility in your ideas? Are the ideas a derivative of each other, (a tennis ball, a netball, a golf ball) or distinct from each other, (a wheel, a coin, a smiley face)?
  • How did you do with regards to the ‘rules’? Did you draw outside of the circles, or combine circles? If you did the 30 Circle Challenge with others, how different or unusual were your ideas compared to them?

REALLY IMPORTANT: There are no right or wrong results in this exercise / challenge.

It’s supposed to be playful, even though it has the ability to unlock some thoughts and ideas you may not have had because of a quality focus.

You also get some insight into how your own creativity works. Don’t see the 30 Circle Challenge as a one-off exercise. It’s far better to see it as a tool to use for problem solving, as well as for evolving your own fluency and flexibility.

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30 Circle Exercise play challenge