Why Dominoes Are a Great Way to Learn About Cause and Effect

When a domino falls, its sides slide against each other and against the surface beneath them, generating friction that converts some of its potential energy into kinetic energy. That energy then passes to the next domino, providing the push it needs to tumble over. And so on, until all the tiles are down in a rhythmic chain. Dominoes are a fun way to learn about cause and effect, but they can also teach us something about how to craft our stories.

When Hevesh sets up her mind-blowing domino structures, she follows a version of the engineering-design process. She considers the theme or purpose of the installation, brainstorms images or words that might go with it, then makes a plan. She may draw it out, or she might just put the pieces down where she wants them. Either way, she pays attention to the way each piece interacts with the one before it and the ones that come after it.

Each domino has an identifying mark on one side and is blank or identically patterned on the other. Most dominoes belong to a suit that features the number of dots on each square (for example, a double is part of the suit of twos). Each set has a designated number of tiles, which can range from double six to double nine. The most common dominoes are rectangular and have a ridge running down the center, which distinguishes them from other types of dominoes that look more like playing cards.

Dominoes are used for both positional games and scoring games, in which players place their dominoes edge to edge on a base to form lines that either equal or add up to some specified total. In these games, the first player plays a domino by drawing it from the boneyard and placing it on top of an existing domino in such a way that the two matching ends touch fully. The player who lays the last domino wins the game.

In business, the word domino has several meanings: the name of a brand, a type of computer, and a strategy for building an organization. But perhaps the best-known use of the word is Domino’s Pizza, which has a reputation for fast delivery and excellent customer service. The company has developed many of its practices based on its core value of championing its customers. This includes listening to feedback, relaxing its dress code, and revamping its college recruiting system.

The company also demonstrates that it is possible to combine leadership with management by giving its employees the opportunity to make decisions and be rewarded for success. This is a model that could benefit many companies, large and small.

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