Domino is a small rectangular game piece used in a variety of games, often played with two or more people. It features one side that bears a number of spots, called pips or dots, and the other that is blank or identically patterned to the first. There are a large number of different domino sets, each with a set of rules that determine how pieces are played and the winning conditions of the game.
As a young girl, Lily Hevesh was enthralled by dominoes. Her grandparents had the classic 28-piece set, and she loved setting them up in straight or curved lines, then flicking them down with her finger. “It was so satisfying to see the whole chain of dominoes fall,” she recalls. “There was a lot of anticipation in waiting for the next domino to tip over, and then a sense of accomplishment when it finally did.”
In his commencement speech at the University of Texas in 2014, Admiral William H. McRaven offered this bit of advice: “Domino actions are high leverage activities that trigger a series of follow-on actions—like dropping a stone into a glass of water.” To put it another way, domino actions are the simple things you do every day that have huge ripple effects in your life and career. They are often low-cost, high-impact efforts that, when combined, can create dramatic change. For example, making your bed in the morning is a small action that can lead to improved productivity throughout your day and a more positive attitude toward work.
Despite their diminutive size, dominoes are full of energy. When you stand one upright, it has potential energy—or stored energy based on its position—and when you knock it over, much of that potential energy is converted to kinetic energy, which causes the rest of the dominoes in the line to fall.
It’s easy to see the power of a single domino in the real world. But what about in a business environment? What are the best ways to use dominoes to drive growth?
We asked experts to share their tips.
Physicist Stephen Morris, who specializes in vibrations and fluid dynamics, describes the energy of a standing domino: “When a domino is standing upright, its mass exerts a force on the bottom that resists motion. That force, when it’s overcome, results in the domino falling over.” The same principle applies to companies. When a leadership team has the right combination of skills, values, and competencies, it can overcome resistance and push through even the most challenging obstacles.