Discovering the Domino Effect


Domino is a game played by placing small rectangular blocks, or tiles, with pips (marks resembling those on dice) on an edged surface. Players score points by laying matching dominoes end to end. Each domino must touch the ends of another domino in order to count; a pair of dominoes with three and one dots, for example, would award points if played correctly. The game may be stopped at any point when a player cannot continue; play passes to the opponent.

Although the most common domino sets have 28 tiles, larger ones are sometimes used to allow for more complicated games with more than two players. These progressively larger sets are called extended sets because the number of possible combinations of ends increases with each addition. Common extended domino sets include double-nine, double-12, and double-18. In some games, a player wins by playing all of their remaining dominoes, but more often a winner is determined when the number of available dominoes becomes too small to allow for another turn.

As a child, Hevesh fell in love with the game of domino and was fascinated by the way a single knocked-over domino could set off a whole chain reaction. Eventually, she began creating large 3-D and flat arrangements of dominoes that were as tall as she was. She also started filming her creations and noticed that, while the dominoes moved easily at first, they seemed to resist movement once they were set in place. Hevesh realized that the dominoes possessed inertia, a property of matter that causes objects to resist motion when no outside force is pushing or pulling them.

Hevesh figured out that she could manipulate the inertia of her creations by adding weight to some of the individual pieces. This helped the dominoes stay in place, but it made the overall structure unstable. The solution was to add a system of lines and curves that connected the dominoes together. Hevesh also discovered that the curvature of each piece created a different type of friction, which increased the energy needed to push each domino.

In business, Schwab found that applying the domino effect to his work improved productivity and organizational efficiency. He would start each day by identifying the most important tasks and ranking them according to their impact. He then devoted all of his attention to the highest-ranked task until it was completed. Then he moved on to the next task, and so on.

The physics of the domino effect is more complex than the simple application that Hevesh describes. However, the principle is the same: change in one area will affect the related areas. The key is to make sure the changes are positive and that they are sustainable. Otherwise, the change will be short-lived and the resulting negative effects will outweigh any initial benefits. This is why it is so important to have a clearly defined vision, mission, and values in an organization. By doing so, employees will know what is expected of them and what kind of behavior will be rewarded.