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Can You STOP the Dominoes Falling?


While in lock down or in lock up, I’ve been busy learning some new tricks and making use of LinkedIn for thought leadership. I’ve posted about 90 items since my last newsletter, many of which are short videos of about 1 minute in duration. Think of them as video bytes [sic] rather than sound bites. I encourage you to check them out at

One of the posts had to do with the domino effect. Some people may call it the ripple effect. I prefer domino effect because you have more control on the setup and the way it plays out. You can even do risk management as necessary if you accidentally start the cascade of dominoes prematurely. You can look ahead and seize a domino out of the sequence to prevent a total catastrophe.

In the 1960s we called it the Domino Theory of the east/west cold war. If one country fell under the influence of one of the major powers, then more would fall like dominoes. By the early 1980s, that domino theory resulted in the opening of the east after the fall of the Berlin wall. Fast forward 20 years to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and you can immediately see the domino effect it had on travel restrictions as the TSA put inspections in for all passengers and the thrill of greeting your loved ones as you came off a plane was taken from us. Ten years on and the domino effect of the Great Recession impacted businesses and lives for numerous years.

After another ten years, a new set of dominoes fall. These last few months we’ve seen what occurs when an unseen virus spreads across the world like dominoes in a line, as borders were closed and air travel was disrupted, as businesses were closed and hospital admissions increased. We continue to see the domino effect as people die without loved ones being able to embrace before they depart this earth for another world.

In business, supply chains were disrupted and are only now beginning to limp back into place. Some businesses had trouble finding people with the 2020s roaring economy of January. Now they have trouble getting people to return to work due to unexpected extra compensation and the continued fear of being infected. This isn’t just bad luck. It’s also not an example of the Law of Unintended Consequences (bad LUC). Some of this could have been, and was, anticipated. Bill Gates posted on April 23 on it ( and referred to his 2015 TED talk where he indicated we were not ready for the first modern pandemic. We had other, smaller outbreaks that signaled what could happen. As a business person, ask yourself what signals are you seeing in your business that will cause your business to fall victim to the next series of dominoes? 


We are all familiar with the idea that we are only as strong as the weakest link in a chain. Our weakest link may have been the lack of control in the cold-chain in a market. It may have been our heavy reliance on a supply chain that is more global now than ever. We may need blockchain technology in the future to better track and trace anything, everything, and everyone.

Why did we not anticipate them? We did. Why did we not prepare? They were all lined up for us to see?

Was it the law of unintended consequences or a situation of wearing blinders?