Dominoes Can Inspire You


A domino is a small rectangular wood or plastic block, usually marked with spots resembling those on dice. The word is also used to describe a game played with a set of these blocks, generally 28 in number. It is a simple game that requires only one domino to begin; the remainder of the pieces are placed edge to edge on top of this piece, so that their adjacent faces match or form a specified total.

Lily Hevesh has loved dominoes since she was 9 years old, when her grandparents gave her a classic 28-piece set. She liked placing them in straight or curved lines, flicking the first domino and watching them all fall—one after the other. Now 20, she has developed her talent into a profession and creates spectacular domino installations for movies, TV shows and events—including an album launch for Katy Perry.

Domino actions are high leverage, low effort actions that have a dramatic impact. They’re the kind of tasks that make you feel accomplished after you finish, and they have the potential to cause a chain reaction. For example, making your bed may seem like a small task, but it can have a profound effect on your motivation and attitude throughout the day. It’s the kind of task that can inspire you to do more and be more.

After Domino’s stumbled through some troubled years, CEO J. Patrick Doyle introduced a bold new marketing campaign in 2009. He was not afraid to show some self-awareness, letting Domino’s leaders and employees read out loud some of the more scathing reviews of the company and its pizza. This unflinching honesty was a refreshing change of pace in corporate America.

Doyle and his team put their money where their mouth was, and the strategy paid off. In just a few short years, Domino’s had grown into the world’s second-largest pizza delivery chain, with 12,500 locations around the globe and a share price of nearly $160.

To keep up the momentum, Doyle focused on improving the company’s core product, as well as adding some more adventurous offerings to its menu. But his most significant innovation was a shift in leadership philosophy. He instituted the “domino principle,” which encourages employees to pick the most important task of the day and give it their full attention until completion. It is a principle that has become the foundation of Domino’s success.

While there are many different kinds of domino games, most are positional and rely on matching the faces of adjacent pieces to form a specified total or pattern. Most dominoes are printed with Arabic numerals, but some sets use more readable dots (either inlaid or painted). In British public houses and clubs, a scoring version of the game is commonly played using the standard double-six set: a piece with six pips at one end and five at the other makes nine, which can be divided by both five and three for points.