The Domino Effect

Dominos are a popular game for children and adults that requires precise timing to achieve a winning combination of numbers. The game’s origin dates back to the mid-18th century. It is not clear how it evolved, but it may have derived from an earlier game called “Squares,” which required placing squares or rectangles with matching edges to make rows and columns of tiles.

Dominoes are made of wood or resin, with a black or white surface with pips (markers) inlaid on one side. The pips indicate the number of tiles that will fall when a player pushes a tile on top of another. Some sets are made from more novel materials, such as silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory or a dark hardwood such as ebony with contrasting pips; these are often much more expensive and have a more sophisticated look than polymer dominoes.

When a single domino is toppled, it sends a pulse of energy through the whole set, similar to how nerve impulses travel in our bodies along an axon. This is because the force of a falling domino is independent of the size of its triggering object and it can only travel in one direction.

Hevesh’s mind-blowing domino installations are based on the same principle. She follows a version of the engineering-design process: she considers the theme or purpose of an installation, brainstorms images and words she might want to use, then creates a diagram. From there, she calculates how many dominoes she’ll need and the layout of their placement. She can build structures as simple or elaborate as she wants, from a single line that makes a word or phrase to intricate 3D designs that look like towers and pyramids.

The domino effect capitalizes on a core principle of persuasion, which is the notion that once people commit to an idea or goal, they’re more likely to honor their commitments because it aligns with their self-image. This is why the concept of a domino effect works in so many situations, from political events to corporate culture.

If the first domino falls over, most of its potential energy converts to kinetic energy, which allows it to push the next domino. The energy is transmitted from domino to domino until the last one falls. In some cases, the chain reaction can continue for miles.

In the case of Dominos, the company’s refocus on customers was a major factor in their turnaround. The company’s previous CEO, David Brandon, listened to complaints and implemented changes that included relaxed dress codes, new leadership training programs and college recruiting systems. When Doyle took over as CEO, he kept up these efforts.

When a student sees their hard work pay off, it creates a sense of accomplishment and good will that can lead to further success. This is a domino effect, and it’s important to recognize and celebrate it in the workplace.