The Domino Effect


Domino, or dominoes, is a set of small rectangular blocks used as gaming pieces in many games. Each domino has a different pattern of dots or marks on one face, called pips. These pips identify the domino as either a double, a single, or blank. The number of pips on a domino determines its suit, and the number of matching suits creates a scoring system. Other game names for the pieces include bones, men, or stones. Dominoes are also commonly used to build Rube Goldberg machines and other elaborate mechanical apparatuses.

The word domino comes from the Latin dominate, which means to rule. The first appearance of the word in English was in 1750. Its meaning has changed considerably over the years, though. In the early 18th century, it referred to the long hooded cloak worn by a priest over his surplice during carnival season or at a masquerade. Later, the hooded cloak became synonymous with the domino piece, and in English the word came to be applied to the game as well.

Most of the time, when people talk about the “domino effect,” they are talking about a chain reaction of events that lead to something else overtaking whatever was in the way. But the word can be applied to other things as well, such as a domino rally or a series of scenes in a novel that don’t add up to much.

Whether you are a pantser, writing off the top of your head, or a plotter who makes detailed outlines with Scrivener, you probably know that if a scene isn’t doing much to drive the story forward, it should be snipped. It could be that a scene introduces a character who isn’t important to the plot or that it’s at an angle that doesn’t do much to heighten tension.

The domino effect can also be seen at work in an organization. When the turnover rate at a company is high, it can have a domino effect on the rest of the staff. When employees leave, the quality of work may drop, and customers are likely to notice.

David Brandon, the CEO of Domino’s before Dominic Doyle took over, knew that listening to employees was a key to the success of the company. He quickly put into place a relaxed dress code, new leadership training programs, and a system for college recruiting. He also spoke directly to workers to find out what they needed from the company and how to fix the problems.

These changes helped turn the tide at Domino’s, and Doyle continued to promote these values when he became CEO. He made sure to participate in the same employee training program that all managers had, and he continued to speak directly to workers to see what they needed from the company. When you listen to your employees, you can have a positive domino effect on the rest of the workforce and your customer base.