30 Circles.

7The 30 Cirlces method was developed my Bob McKim (University of Stanford). It’s a great warm-up and also highlights the balance between fluency (the speed and quantity of ideas) and flexibility (how different or divergent they are).



Once in a while, we run into an idea block – similar to a writer’s block – and need a way to get the brain juices flowing. When that happens, we usually give ourselves a break before approaching the problem again. This excercise improves creative thinking.


Brief summary of the overall task / Individual contribution


  1. Take a 30 Circles sheet of paper and something to draw with.
  2. Turn as many of the blank circles as possible into recognizable objects in 3 minutes.
  3. The goal is the quantity, not the quality.



Fill as many circles as you can with your drawing in 3 minutes.


E-moderator interventions

Download the form and print: http://www.innovativeict.net/downloads/30circlestest.pdf


Compare results. Look for the quantity or fluency of ideas. Ask how many people filled in 10, 15, 20, or more circles? (Most people don’t finish.) Next, look for diversity or flexibility in ideas. Are the ideas derivative (a basketball, a baseball, a volleyball) or distinct (a planet, a cookie, a happy face)? If people were drawing their own circles, did anyone “break the rules” and combine two or more (a snowman or a traffic light)? Were the rules explicit, or just assumed?


Time and schedule

3 minutes drawing + 10 minutes discussion


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