Dominoes are small rectangular blocks of rigid material, often made of wood or plastic. They are normally twice as long as they are wide, with two square ends featuring a number of dots or pips that indicate their value. A domino with more pips is considered to be “heavier” than one with fewer pips, though the exact value of each end can vary from game to game.

A domino that is positioned correctly and struck lightly with a domino block or other object will cause the first domino to fall, setting off a chain reaction of the remaining pieces. The remaining dominoes continue to fall until a player cannot play another. The last domino to touch the floor wins. Usually, players only allow a tile to be played when its two adjacent sides are facing the same direction and the total value of the remaining pips is equal to that of the first domino.

In the game of domino, each person takes turns playing a domino on top of the existing chains. A person may only play a domino that has a number showing on both its front and back, or that shows a number that is useful to their partner or distasteful to their opponents. The partners then make note of the numbers available and try to make sure they have enough dominoes to advance in future plays.

Physicist Stephen Morris says that standing a domino upright gives it potential energy based on its position and location. But when that domino is tipped even slightly, much of that potential energy is converted to kinetic energy as the piece slides down, causing it to push on the next domino in the chain.

Many of us have seen videos of people constructing elaborate domino works that, after the initial piece is tipped ever so slightly, begin to fall in a beautiful cascade of rhythmic motion. What is it about these constructions that make them so captivating?

One of the keys is that each domino in a chain is connected to every other domino on both its front and back. That’s why it can feel like everything has to happen exactly right in order for all the pieces to fall at once.

In business, this domino effect can have positive or negative impacts. It’s why it’s important to consider what is truly needed before making a decision that could potentially lead to a domino effect of trouble.

The example of Domino’s CEO, Don Meij, goes a long way in illustrating how a domino effect can be used for good. In a show called Undercover Boss, Meij is sent to work at one of Domino’s busiest restaurants and also to its delivery service to see how the company manages its operations from the ground up. Meij makes several observations throughout the show and comes to the conclusion that Domino’s is doing things very well. But he also points out that the company can improve on some of its leadership practices, particularly in its ability to listen to its employees and respond to their feedback.