The Domino Effect

Domino is a small, flat rectangular block that is used as a gaming object. Known also as bones, men, or pieces, they are often arranged in long lines to create complex designs. When the first domino in a line is tipped over, it triggers the others to fall over. This chain reaction is called the Domino Effect. The concept has become a popular metaphor for events that start small but lead to much larger–and sometimes catastrophic–consequences. It is even the name of a well-known business strategy.

Domino’s, the pizza company founded by Tom Monaghan in 1962 in Ypsilanti, Michigan, capitalized on this principle when it shifted its strategy in 1967 to focus on delivering pizza quickly to college students. The strategy paid off, and the company grew rapidly, opening more than 200 locations by 1978.

Technology has also been a big part of Domino’s success, changing the way customers order (using an app, direct through Twitter, or even by texting an emoji) and how they monitor the status of their orders. The company has also been at the forefront of new delivery vehicles, including a colorful, cool-looking Domino’s delivery car that was crowd-sourced and designed through a competition.

Hevesh, who has worked on projects involving 300,000 dominoes, says that when she sets up an intricate domino display, her process starts with brainstorming images or words. She then considers how she can use the different colors of dominoes to highlight specific parts of an image or to tell a story. Then she works out the engineering of how each piece will be positioned and how it will be connected to the others. Then it is just a matter of waiting for gravity to do its work.

As a domino falls, its potential energy converts to kinetic energy that moves the next one toward it, pushing it over as a chain reaction begins. The process continues with each domino transferring energy to the next until all the pieces are on the ground.

Dominoes were first recorded in Europe in the mid-18th century, although the game dates back as far as the 12th century ad in China and as early as the 12th century ad in Egypt. Unlike today’s dominoes, which are usually printed in bright colors, the earliest dominoes were made of bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory, or a dark hardwood such as ebony.

Besides being a toy, domino is also an excellent learning tool for children and can be used to teach basic math concepts such as addition and subtraction. It can also help students develop visual memory and sequencing skills. And it can be used to teach about the power of commitment and consistency, a concept illustrated by the classic book Influence by Robert Cialdini.