We all love that satisfying moment when we tip the first domino ever-so-slightly, and it falls—setting off a beautiful chain reaction of toppling pieces. That is what we call the domino effect, and it can apply to anything from an accidental spill of wine on a carpet, to political upheavals that spiral out of control.
But a domino can be much more powerful than we think. University of Toronto physicist Stephen Morris has shown that, by setting up a sequence of 13 dominoes, you can cause them to knock over things nearly a half their size, and the power of the falling pieces is greater than you might imagine.
A domino is a small rectangular block of wood or plastic, normally twice as long as it is wide. The face of the domino is divided into two squares, and each square is marked with an arrangement of spots or “pips,” similar to those on dice. Each pips has a different value, which is indicated on the exposed ends of the domino (one’s touch one’s, two’s touch two’s, etc). Dominoes are normally stacked in a line and played by touching each end to the next, thereby creating a chain that gradually increases in length.
When it comes to writing, the domino effect is often described as the idea that the actions of a character will affect the actions of other characters in the scene—and eventually the entire story. This is why writers are often advised to plan out a plot before writing the first word, and to keep in mind that every action will have a domino effect on the story.
This is also the principle behind the concept of momentum and consistency—the idea that it takes a certain amount of energy to keep a project moving forward, but once you get going, the effects can be exponential. It is important to remember this when you are working on a difficult task, and to be patient as the results of your hard work may not come immediately.
The domino effect is also commonly used in business to refer to any process that starts off small, but causes a series of events that have a greater impact than expected. The most common example of this is a change in leadership that cascades into a change in organizational structure or procedures.
For example, a new leader may decide to implement a strict dress code for employees—which in turn leads to changes in the company’s policies regarding other issues, which in turn lead to more significant changes. Similarly, a new employee may start working on a project that has the potential to influence many other people, and this is why it is important for them to act responsibly and make ethical decisions.
The domino effect is a powerful metaphor, and it can be useful when planning a business or a personal project. By keeping in mind the principles of momentum and consistency, you can ensure that any changes you implement will have a positive impact.