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The Domino Effect


Domino is a small rectangular block, the face of which is marked with dots resembling those on dice. A domino is usually colored white or black, but can be made from many other materials, including metals, clay, and even frosted glass. A set of dominoes consists of 28 tiles, and they can be used for a variety of games and projects. The game is best played on a hard surface, and it’s easiest to stand the tiles upright in rows. When one domino is knocked down, it triggers a chain reaction, and more and more tiles cascade over the top of it. The idea of a domino effect has been applied to all kinds of situations, and it’s become a popular metaphor for how a single action can cause a cascade of events to occur.

Whether you’re playing domino or using the idea to describe a chain of events, it’s important to remember that the first domino must be a solid foundation. Likewise, when you’re planning your work or a project, you need to identify the most critical element and focus on it first. This will help you build momentum that can move other tasks forward. The concept of a domino effect was introduced to business leader Charles Schwab by his mentor, Ivy Lee. She instructed him to pick the one task that would have the most impact, and concentrate all of his energy on it until it was completed. She then had him rank the remaining tasks in order of their importance, and to work on those only after the first task was finished. She called this technique “the domino principle.”

While you can play domino with any number of players, the most common game involves two people. The rules vary slightly, but the basic idea is that each player lays their tile so that its edge touches part of another domino in the line. This creates a new line, and subsequent players add their own tiles to the end of this line, creating a chain that eventually becomes very long. A player may only play a tile that has a matching number on one end, and a number must be present on both ends for the pair to be considered valid.

In addition to the traditional blocking and scoring games, domino also can be used for positional games. In these, each player takes turns placing their tiles edge to edge against one another so that the adjacent sides match. The value of the tile is determined by its pips, and it can be ad hoc or predetermined.

In addition to being a great way to pass the time, domino is a fun tool for teaching the concepts of pattern recognition and causality. The next time you need to demonstrate these concepts, consider showing a video of a domino falling over, then ask your students what happens after it. Then discuss how the same principles can be applied to a series of other societal behaviors and events.

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