The Domino Effect

Domino, or dominoes, is a game that involves laying down small rectangular blocks on their sides in long lines. When the first domino in a line is tipped over, it triggers a chain reaction that causes the next domino to tip, and so on, until all the dominoes have fallen. Very complex designs can be made by stacking the dominoes in a variety of ways. The term domino can also refer to a political or military action that has consequences similar to those of the domino effect.

The first time you play with dominoes, it is a bit of an experiment. You place the pieces on a flat surface, usually a table, and set them up in straight or curved lines. Barely touch the first domino with your finger and watch what happens. You can make it fall, or you can cause it to fall in a different direction. It may take a few tries before you get the results you want, but it is worth it.

There are many games that can be played with dominoes, including a variant of Concentration. There are even domino-based poker and blackjack games.

Most people, however, use dominoes simply as toys. They enjoy setting them up in a long line and then flicking the first domino so that the whole row falls. This can be a very satisfying activity, especially when the dominoes are of a special design or have been painted to look more interesting.

The game of dominoes has given rise to the phrase, “domino effect,” which is used both literally (physical collisions) and metaphorically (causal linkages within systems such as global finance or politics). The literal application of the principle is illustrated in a famous Rube Goldberg machine. It can also be applied to behavioral change, for example when people begin exercising and eating healthier, the effects of their new behaviors are often much greater than they expected, as one behavior leads to a series of other changes in related habits.

In business, the principle of the domino effect is useful in identifying and mitigating risk. A company can identify a few major issues that are holding it back and then work on them, one at a time. This can help a struggling business regain its footing and move forward.

For example, a business may hire more qualified employees, retrain existing staff, or adopt a more effective process for recruiting and training. Each of these initiatives may have a large payoff in terms of improved productivity and increased customer satisfaction.

Another way that businesses can leverage the Domino effect is by listening to their customers and responding to their feedback. This was an important strategy for Domino’s when it was struggling in the early 2000s. Former CEO David Brandon, and then his successor, Doyle, worked to implement a number of changes to the restaurant that were directly influenced by the concerns of their customers. These included relaxed dress codes, new leadership training programs, and a system for evaluating college recruits.