The domino effect is well-known for its ability to inspire change in many areas of our lives. When we change one behavior, it can trigger a cascade of new behaviors, often with very surprising side effects. This phenomenon has also been observed in the world of business, where one innovative idea can lead to a series of changes that result in an unexpectedly positive outcome.
A domino is a small, flat, thumb-sized, rectangular block with one to six pips or dots: 28 such blocks form a complete set of dominoes. A game played with these pieces involves lining them up end to end and then pushing one of them over, causing all of the others to fall down in a line or an angular pattern.
Dominoes have inertia, a tendency to resist motion unless a force is acting on them. This is why it takes a little bit of effort to knock over even the largest domino setups created by masters like Hevesh. But once you get a domino past its tipping point, it can be moved by a very tiny amount of energy.
This is because dominoes have what is called potential energy, a stored energy based on their position in the setup. When a domino is standing upright, its potential energy is equal to the mass of the entire domino line. When the domino falls, however, its potential energy converts to kinetic energy, or the energy of movement. Some of this energy is transmitted to the next domino, giving it the push needed to topple it over as well. Energy continues to be transferred from domino to domino until all the blocks have fallen.
Physicist Stephen Morris explains how this happens in the video above: When a domino is standing upright, it has the same amount of potential energy as the mass of all the other dominoes lined up behind it. But once you knock over a domino, the mass of all the other dominoes falls toward Earth, which gives them a much greater amount of kinetic energy than they had before. This increased energy causes them to move, which in turn causes the other dominoes to start moving and so on.
While Domino’s innovations like their purpose-built pizza delivery vehicles and drones are aimed at improving their bottom line, they can also serve as a metaphor for the domino effect. In the case of a Domino’s pizza, a few small changes can lead to an entirely different product with far more benefits. Similarly, the slightest change in an organization’s culture or processes can have a major impact on its results. And that is exactly why the Domino’s innovation team spends so much time researching and testing new ideas.