It's one thing to set goals-and entirely another to get the people in your organization to actually accomplish them. To make the leap from vision to execution, you can't just define what needs doing; you also need to spell out the details of getting it done. One motivational tool that enables this is "if-then planning," which helps people express and carry out their intentions. If-then plans work because contingencies are built into our neurological wiring, says social psychologist Halvorson. Humans are very good at encoding information in "If x, then y" terms and using such connections to guide their behavior, often unconsciously. When people decide exactly when, where, and how they'll fulfill a goal, they create a link in their brains between the situation or cue (If or when x happens) and the behavior that should follow (then I will do y). This creates powerful triggers for action. To date, most of the research on if-then plans has focused on individuals, but new studies show that they're very effective with groups, improving performance by sharpening focus and prompting members to execute key activities in a timely manner. If-then planning helps organizations avoid poorly expressed goals, groupthink, the tendency to cling to lost causes, and other problems. It pinpoints conditions for success, increases everyone's sense of responsibility, and helps close the troublesome gap between knowing and doing.