The Domino Effect

A domino is a flat thumb-sized, rectangular block with a printed surface bearing from one to six pips (or dots). A full set of dominoes, called a double-six set or a double-nine set, has 28 such tiles. Dominoes are used for various games, in which a player places them edge to edge against each other, matching their ends and arranging them in lines or angular patterns. The games typically fall into two categories: blocking games and scoring games.

When a player starts a chain of dominoes by laying down the first tile, it has potential energy, or stored energy based on its position. As the first domino topples, much of that potential energy is converted to kinetic energy, or the energy of motion, and some of that energy is transmitted to the next domino in the line, which then has the ability to push over its counterpart. This process continues, converting energy from one domino to the next and causing the dominoes to fall in a cascade of action.

It’s not just the physical energy that creates the domino effect, but the physics of the human mind as well. Domino’s founder, Tom Monaghan, understood the importance of leveraging the power of human psychology to drive business growth. After opening the company’s first franchise in Ypsilanti, Michigan in 1967, he placed the pizzerias near college campuses to draw in students, the core market for his new pizza delivery service. This strategy boosted business and led to the opening of additional locations.

Whether you’re an expert at a particular sport, a skilled artist or an aspiring novelist, the principles of the domino effect apply to all aspects of life. Whenever we take the time to consider our goals and how to achieve them, we can better prepare ourselves for the future. In the same way, Domino’s is always working to develop innovative ways to deliver pizza — and it’s not just about making the pizza faster.

For example, when Domino’s tested a robot that could speed up the pizza-making process by delivering ingredients from the oven to the customer, it proved successful in some cases, but customers were often confused about what they had received with their order. This is because the robot was only able to deliver some of the components of a pizza, not the entire pie.

When Hevesh sets up her massive domino creations, she follows a version of the engineering-design process that helps ensure that each component works well independently and can be integrated into a larger whole. She tests each part of the installation in a controlled environment and makes adjustments when needed. Then, she begins assembling the parts into a complete domino installation. The biggest 3-D sections go up first, followed by the flat arrangements and finally the lines of dominoes that connect all of them together. She often films each step in slow motion, which allows her to analyze the results and make fine-tune any errors.