Dominoes are small rectangular blocks, typically 28 in number, with one side marked with an arrangement of spots or dots resembling those on dice. The other side is blank or identically patterned. The value of a domino may be indicated on both sides, but one side usually features a line that divides it visually into two squares, or ends; the sum of the values of either end is often called its “rank” or “weight.” The size and shape of a domino can influence its behavior in games played with them, as the presence or absence of a particular side can have important consequences for the game’s outcome.
Like a child’s birthday party or a family vacation, it can be fun to set up dominoes and knock them down. But the real thrill comes from watching the chain reaction that builds as each domino topples over the next. The same principle is at work in business, too. A single domino can trigger a chain of events that leads to the success or failure of a company, a product, or even a political movement.
The story of the domino effect begins in 1965 with James Monaghan, who owned half of the Ypsilanti-based Domino’s Pizza restaurant. He and his brother Tom grew the company by focusing on customer service, offering delivery, and putting locations near colleges where students frequently ordered pizza. Monaghan also emphasized the use of high-quality ingredients. During this time, Domino’s also experimented with using computers to automate some of its operations.
In the 1970s, Domino’s diversified by acquiring an early computer company and creating Domino’s Delivery Experts, which would handle deliveries for some of its restaurants. This new venture helped the company compete with larger chains while providing an additional revenue stream.
By the 1980s, Domino’s had more than 200 restaurants in the United States and was beginning to enter foreign markets. During this period, the Domino’s name was changed to its current spelling of domino and some of its food offerings were modernized. The Domino’s brand is still a prominent name in pizza and has become the world’s leading pizza franchise.
As the Domino’s name grew in popularity, so did the Domino’s Effect, which is the phenomenon that occurs when a single domino starts a chain reaction that eventually results in everyone doing what it takes to get something done. This concept has been applied to a wide variety of fields, including sales, marketing, business, and leadership.
While a domino is still an excellent metaphor for how things can fall into place and create a big impact, many experts agree that the Domino’s Effect is more about the way in which the chain reaction is started. For example, a coach can help an athlete reach his or her goals by believing in the person and keeping the player focused on the big picture. In the same way, a mentor can keep an entrepreneur on track toward achieving his or her dreams by helping them make smart decisions along the way.