The Domino Effect

A domino is a small square piece of material bearing from one to six pips or dots. It is one of many pieces that make up a set of dominoes, which are used for playing various games by matching the ends of adjacent pieces and laying them down in lines or angular patterns. When a domino is pushed over, it creates friction that converts some of its potential energy into kinetic energy—the energy of motion—and this energy travels to the next domino in line, providing the push needed to topple it as well. The process continues down the chain until all the dominoes have been knocked over.

When Hevesh first sets out to design her mind-blowing domino creations, she has a clear idea of what she wants the final result to look like, and she begins by brainstorming images that might match her theme. She then outlines the specific steps needed to get there. Finally, she creates a diagram to help her visualize the entire project and to make sure it will be feasible within the limits of her resources.

In a similar vein, authors often write a detailed outline before writing the actual book, which can save time and trouble down the road. But even with an outline, some elements of a story are unpredictable and need to be left to chance. That’s where the Domino Effect comes in handy. This theory states that “a single action can have an outsized impact by triggering a series of other actions, similar to a script in programming.” The domino effect applies to life as well. A simple act such as making your bed can lead to a whole new way of approaching your daily routine and eventually create a positive ripple effect in other areas of your life.

One of the most dramatic examples of the Domino Effect is how the pizza company Domino’s turned itself around. When David Brandon was CEO, Domino’s had lost market share, its stock price languished below $8 per share, and it was a target of late-night TV jokes. But Doyle, who became CEO in 2010, stuck to the company’s core values—one of which was championing its customers—and listened closely to what people were saying about Domino’s.

He quickly put new policies into place, including a relaxed dress code and new leadership training programs. Most importantly, he asked employees for feedback and addressed their complaints directly. This was an important part of the Domino’s turnaround strategy, and it also helped boost employee morale.

Domino’s focus on listening to customers is a core value that extends to the company’s supply chain as well. In fact, half of the Domino’s headquarters workforce in Ann Arbor, Michigan is involved in software analytics that can predict when and where pizzas are ordered so they can be delivered at the right time and the correct temperature. As a result, Domino’s has become the second largest pizza chain in the world and is a darling of CNBC’s stock pickers.