A domino is a flat, thumbsized, rectangular block, each face of which may be either blank or bear from one to six dots (called pips) arranged as on dice. A traditional set contains 28 such pieces. Dominoes, also called bones, cards, men, or tiles, are used in various games of chance and skill.
A person who builds domino sets is a domino artist, and Lily Hevesh has been creating them since she was 9. Her mind-blowing creations are the result of an engineering-design process that starts with determining a theme or purpose of an installation. From there, she brainstorms images or words that might fit the theme. Once she has the ideas down, Hevesh creates a draft of her design on a piece of paper and then moves onto a physical model using blocks or foam.
Then comes the hard work of arranging the pieces into a final layout. For Hevesh, it’s important to be mindful of the energy of a domino setup. “It’s important to consider the weight of a domino, because as you place it, it will have some inertia to resist motion,” she says. But if that first domino is given a slight nudge, most of its potential energy will convert to kinetic energy—the energy of movement. Then, that energy will push on the next domino, and so on until the whole setup falls over.
This is a high leverage action: a single tipping over of one domino can cause a chain reaction that changes an entire system. In his book, The Domino Effect, author James Kouzes explains that domino actions are like scripts: a small victory can trigger a series of related, larger victories. For example, once Jennifer Dukes Lee started making her bed every day, she began to believe that she was the kind of person who maintained a clean home—and eventually, she built other identity-based habits.
Another example is Domino’s turnaround campaign in 2009. When Domino’s CEO J. Patrick Doyle came aboard, he launched a bold marketing campaign that included a video in which company leaders and employees read scathing reviews of the pizza’s quality. It was a rare example of self-awareness in business, and it resonated with customers.
Today, Domino’s invests in software analytics to help improve customer service and support its more than 8,000 locations. The company also has invested in new ways for people to order their favorite pie, including via text or Amazon Echo. But the company still places a premium on the human element, and many of its employees are trained to deliver a quality product at speed. The company is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It employs more than half of its workers in the research and development department—a fact that speaks to the company’s commitment to innovation.