Domino is a game played with an arrangement of dominoes, or “tiles,” that are marked on one side with an identity-bearing pattern of dots (or squares) and blank on the other. The tiles may be arranged in rows, columns, or a circle, with the end of each domino being either blank, marked with a number of dots that indicate its value, or capped with an image. Dominoes are typically double the width of a playing card, and they feature a line in the middle to divide them visually into two squares or “ends.” Each end is marked with a numbered arrangement of spots or “pips” that indicates its value, from six pips down to none or blank.
In the most basic Western domino game, players draw for the lead and then place their tiles on the table. The dominoes that are left behind are called the stock or “boneyard.” The leader then chooses a piece to play first, and as each domino is played, it sends energy down the line.
This chain reaction is what makes dominoes so fascinating. And this same principle applies to launching a new business, book, or project. Each step of a plan may seem trivial, but when it’s complete and successful, it can send ripples that propel the entire venture.
Jennifer Dukes Lee is a great example of this effect. Her tiny act of making her bed daily was a domino that started her down a path of changing other habits. She began putting clothes away, loading the dishwasher and reorganizing Tupperware in her kitchen. It was as if she’d flipped a switch inside her that said, “Now I’m the type of person who maintains a clean home.”
When Lily Hevesh sets up a mind-blowing domino installation, she uses a variation of the engineering-design process. She starts with the theme or purpose of the setup and brainstorms images or words that relate to it. Then she begins assembling the pieces, building 3-D sections first and then adding flat arrangements. Once she has each section working properly, Hevesh films it in slow motion to make adjustments if necessary.
Dominoes are also a great tool for prioritization. When you have many ideas floating around in your head, it can be difficult to decide which one to execute first. But the Domino Effect can help you keep your priorities straight by highlighting the most impactful ideas that can be played today.
When Domino’s CEO Tom Doyle joined the company, he had a vision for taking its pizza and service to the next level. This meant embracing bold moves that went against the grain. He helped create a pizza-delivery vehicle that’s designed to be as cool as possible, and worked with crowd-sourced auto designers to create a Domino’s delivery car—a Chevrolet Spark nicknamed the “cheese lover’s Batmobile.” And, of course, he made sure Domino’s had its own version of the Domino Effect. Now, the brand has a global presence and a reputation for innovation.