The Domino Effect

Domino is a game in which the players compete to build a row of dominoes, either horizontally or vertically. The first player to complete the row wins the game. Various rules exist for playing the game, but most involve scoring points by placing dots or pips on opposing tiles or on an entire domino, depending on the particular variant of the game.

The word domino comes from the Latin for “flipping” and may refer to the way that a domino can be flipped over to produce a chain reaction of other dominoes. The word is also used to describe any kind of action that leads to another, similar, or even identical event.

Physicist Lorne Whitehead used the domino effect to demonstrate the potential power of a domino, in this 1983 video. He set up a series of 13 dominoes and demonstrated how a single domino could knock over objects about a-half times its own size, and how the whole set could be brought down with just one slight nudge.

The domino effect is also often used as a metaphor for political and social events, including revolutions. For example, in his famous Frost/Nixon interviews, Richard Nixon defended the United States’ destabilization of the Salvador Allende regime in Chile on domino theory grounds, asserting that a Communist Chile would be followed by a Communist Cuba, resulting in a red sandwich that could entrap Latin America between them. The domino theory was also cited in support of the Reagan administration’s interventions in Central America and the Caribbean, although this argument relied more on the threat of a communist golpe than on the actual probability that such an event would occur.

When it comes to business, the domino effect can be applied to leadership and management styles. For example, when a domino company takes the initiative to change its policies or leadership style, it can cause a domino effect among competitors. This can lead to a greater share of the market or even a new industry, such as e-commerce.

In terms of management, the domino effect can be used to describe an approach that is less bureaucratic and more participatory in nature. For example, when a CEO at a company like Domino’s takes the lead to talk to employees and listen to their concerns, this can create a domino effect that results in better employee satisfaction.

Dominoes are also commonly used in creative projects, such as art installations or Rube Goldberg machines. In 2009, for instance, a Dutch artist named Hevesh erected a large-scale installation of dominoes in the World Trade Center Expo hall in Leeuwarden. The exhibition was meant to draw attention to the city’s efforts to attract more tourists and residents.

Some domino sets are made from natural materials, such as bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory, or a dark hardwood such as ebony, with contrasting black or white pips inlaid or painted onto the pieces. More recently, polymer-based dominoes have come into widespread use.