The Domino Effect in Fiction and Business


Domino, a small rectangular block used as a gaming object. It has a line down the middle, which separates it into two square ends with a number of spots or dots on each. Often referred to as bones, pieces, men, or stones, dominoes can be made of rigid material such as bone, ivory, wood, or plastic and are sometimes decorated with inlaid or painted pips. They can be used in a variety of games, such as checkers, backgammon, and solitaire. Dominoes can also be constructed into artistic creations, such as the famous abacus and a pyramid.

A domino can have either a blank or numbered face, depending on the game. A domino with a single number on each of its ends is called a simple domino, while one with the same number on both ends is known as a double. Most sets of dominoes have one unique domino for each possible combination of numbers from one to six. Some have as many as 190 dominoes.

Dominoes are often arranged in a pattern, and the player takes turns placing them so that adjacent sides touch each other. Each domino has a number of spots, or pips, on each of its two ends, and the players must place them so that these pips form a specific total value, or set, when the chain is completed. For example, a domino with five pips on one end and three on the other must be placed so that a six is played to it. This ensures that the chains develop in a uniform manner.

Similarly, if a writer uses the domino effect in his or her story, the final scene must build on the previous scenes. If it does not, the story is likely to fall apart. For example, if your heroine reveals the first clue to the mystery but then, in the next scene, the opposition does nothing to raise the tension, something is wrong.

This is why it is so important for a novelist to think of each scene as a domino. It is also why some writers use a tool such as Scrivener to outline the plot before writing.

In business, Domino’s Pizza exemplifies the domino effect by having its CEO work on delivery services and even eat at the restaurants himself to better understand what employees are experiencing. This kind of approach to leadership, unlike traditional management theory, is more about identifying and supporting leaders who will succeed rather than simply mandating what the leader must do.

Domino’s isn’t the only company to employ this type of leadership. A domino effect is often created by a single event that triggers other events, such as lawsuits, mergers, or acquisitions. For instance, a police officer pulling over a woman driving an SUV can have the effect of tripping legal and financial dominoes that have not yet been laid. The officer may not have intended to cause this domino effect, but he or she will be held responsible for the subsequent results.