Domino is a game where players build up a line of dominos, then tip over the first one to set off a chain reaction that continues until all the pieces have fallen. The physics of the domino effect is interesting—as each piece is tipped over, it converts from potential energy into kinetic energy and then transmits that energy to each domino that comes in contact with it, creating an ever-growing chain of events. Whether you’re writing a novel or planning a corporate change, you can use the principle of the domino to guide your work and make it more impactful.
Lily Hevesh has been playing with dominoes since she was 9. Her grandparents had a classic 28-piece set, and Hevesh was hooked. She started creating her own mind-blowing domino sets and posting videos of them on YouTube. Her channel, Hevesh5, now has more than 2 million subscribers. She’s created domino setups for movies, TV shows, and events—including an album launch for pop star Katy Perry.
As a writer, she’s found that the best way to plan a story is to think of every plot beat as a single domino. She starts by setting up a few key elements—what’s going to happen, why it will happen, and how it will affect other characters—and then fills in the details with each individual domino that will fall. She’s discovered that the more dominos she includes, the more exciting it is to watch them fall.
The term “domino” also refers to a person or company who is influential or powerful. The Domino’s Pizza chain is named after its founder, Dominick Monaghan, who opened the first store in Ypsilanti, Michigan, in 1967. At the time, it was a small pizzeria that specialized in delivering pizza to college students.
When Monaghan began opening additional locations, he focused on placing his stores near universities to attract a core audience that wanted pizza delivered quickly. This strategy helped Domino’s grow to more than 200 locations by 1978.
In 2010, when Domino’s CEO, Steve Doyle, took over, the company was floundering. The company had lost market share, its stock price was stagnant, and its reputation had become a punchline in late-night comedy shows. But Doyle saw that something needed to change—fast.
To do so, he went back to the roots of the company’s success. He looked at the feedback Domino’s received from its customers and knew what had to be done. Customers weren’t complaining about delivery speed or even the quality of the pizza, but that the company’s pizza was bland and tasted like ketchup. Doyle knew Domino’s had to get better at making the pizza itself. This would require a major culture change—one that Doyle led by example, stepping in to deliver pizza himself and visiting stores around the country to talk directly to employees. This was a bold move, but it was the right one. It’s paid off. Domino’s has more than 12,500 locations in 80 countries and is the second-largest pizza chain worldwide.