Dominoes – A Game of Self-Deprecation and Accountability


A domino is a small rectangular block, normally twice as long as it is wide. It features a line in the middle that divides it visually into two squares, with each end marked with one or more groups of spots. The number of spots on each end is referred to as its value. A domino’s value may be a single rank, a combination of ranks or suits, or blank. The most common set has 28 dominoes (called tiles) with each tile having either one, three, five or six dots on the ends; each unique combination of ends corresponds to a different suit.

The most basic domino games are blocking and scoring games. In the former, players draw for the lead and then play a piece in turn. The highest ranking piece played determines the next player’s turn. The game ends when a player has no more pieces left in hand or the total score of the player surpasses a set score, as kept on a cribbage board.

Dominoes are also used for artistic purposes, such as constructing lines and grids that form pictures when they fall or stacked walls and pyramids. For the most elaborate designs, the player arranges the dominoes on a flat surface and then draws arrows showing how they should fall. For example, if the dominoes are arranged to form a circle, the arrows will indicate that they should all be toppled over in sequence.

In business, the term domino is often applied to a strategy of self-deprecating honesty and straightforward accountability, especially when an organization has made a mistake that it needs to address quickly and effectively. For example, in 2009, Domino’s Pizza ran a video featuring several Domino’s leaders and employees reading scathing critiques of the company and its pizza. This type of candid candor and self-deprecation is usually reserved for politicians, but in this case, it worked.

For example, a man who had difficulty with arithmetic could use the domino effect to overcome his math challenge by making a small daily victory. By simply committing to making his bed every day, he established a new habit that helped him build more identity-based habits, including eating healthier and getting more exercise.

The word domino is also commonly applied to a chain of events that have a pronounced impact on a person or situation. For example, if a large amount of money is invested into a project that has a great potential for success, it can cause an economic “domino effect,” with the successful project eventually leading to more investments and other positive outcomes. This phenomenon is sometimes referred to as the “domino theory.”