The Domino Effect

Dominoes, the cousins of playing cards and a predecessor to the board game Monopoly, can be used for many games and are beloved by people of all ages. They’re also a useful tool in teaching children about the principle of cause and effect. They’re an object lesson in the way that one event can knock over many other events and change a whole system of behavior or work.

When we think about domino, we often picture the scene where someone just tips a single domino ever-so-slightly and all of the rest fall in a smooth cascade. That’s the domino effect, and it can be applied to any situation where one event can affect a series of other events.

In business, the Domino effect is seen when a company makes one small change that has a huge impact. One such example is the Domino’s Pizza CEO Don Meij who, in an attempt to address customer complaints about long delivery times, decided to implement a new route that would save time. That small change had a domino effect that changed the entire company’s structure and caused the company to turn around.

The word domino may also refer to a specific type of game that involves matching sets of tiles and scoring points. A domino is usually twice as long as it is wide and features a line in the middle to divide it visually into two squares, with each side bearing a number of dots called “pips” (each numbered from one to six). Some dominoes have only the pips on both sides, while others are blank or identically patterned on both sides. The pips on each side of a domino can be used to identify its rank, or value; a domino with more pips is generally considered to have a higher rank than a blank or blank-pip domino.

Dominoes are normally arranged in a line or a chain that’s gradually increased in length as players place their tiles and add to the chains. When a player places a tile, it must touch a domino with a matching number of pips on both ends to continue play. If no matching tiles are available, the player “chips out” and play passes to the other player.

As each domino is placed, the shape of the chain develops snake-like according to the whims of the players. A tile played to a double must have matching numbers on both of its ends or it is considered a “dummy” and cannot be moved until a more appropriate match is found.

Hevesh creates her mind-blowing domino installations by first testing out each section individually to make sure it works. She then puts the larger 3-D sections up first, followed by flat arrangements and finally lines of dominoes that connect all of the sections together. When she’s ready to set up a full display, she takes care to carefully mark where each domino is going and uses tape to keep the pieces in place as they fall. Hevesh says the key to her incredible designs is gravity: As each domino falls, its potential energy converts into kinetic energy that sends the next piece crashing into it.