18_Dale Brill

Drive Change

Dale Brill teaches executives and dealers about the Internet for this industrial giant. His “eBoot Camp Experience” immersed 2,500 people in the power of the Net.


Dale Brill
Dean of e-commerce, General Motors
Detroit, Michigan


What needed an overhaul?
The mindset that solving the e-commerce mystery is somebody else’s job. At General Motors, more than 7,700 dealers and thousands of corporate team members worked comfortably in the worlds they knew, secure in knowing answers before the questions were asked. Few seemed to embrace e-commerce, because fear of failure and an inherent need to always have the right answer seemed the dominant models for life in the rear view mirror no matter how anachronistic for our future in the windshield. We needed to demystify e-commerce at every level, close the communication gap between the computer geeks and marketing types, and enable self-sufficiency.

What was the single biggest obstacle?
Getting a chorus of “Yes!”–from a choir full of individuals capable of killing projects with a single nod–to create a comprehensive e-commerce education program at General Motors, particularly when the faint at heart and understanding were beginning to run from e-commerce to the safe harbors of “I told you so.” The eBoot Camp Experience (our e-commerce education program) required buy-in, support and coordination among three divisional heads, four global directors, five regional directors, corporate training and transformation directors, five regional e-commerce managers, and time commitments from more than 2,500 wholesale, retail and corporate participants already facing a full desk of expectations.

How did you overcome it?
Offered sheer passion to fuel the GM eBoot Camp Experience. The tangible components of e-transformation are easily acquired. They are necessary, but not sufficient. Only passion can turn individual resistance into team buy-in. But passion can’t be faked. It is not a play to be staged. Expertise without passion is only a script. Teaching without passion is a hollow soliloquy. At GM, passion created the world’s largest mobile internet classroom with stops in 35 cities conducting 48 hands-on workshops in five months; we also launched four satellite broadcasts and 32 web-based seminars to 12 countries. With passion as a sustaining catalyst, the only difficult thing really is to know when to get out of the way.

How have you seen results?
eBoot Camp participant ratings averaged 4.5 out of 5. Some 2,500 participated in the mobile classroom. Dealer website usability improved following 300 individual evaluations by request. Global web-based modules are scheduled by in-country personnel we trained. We appear to be much closer to e-transformation than before. But as Don Quixote hinted centuries ago, change cannot be measured so near in time to our early efforts: “and it may be that in the course of time they have been changed…it may be people do all that [we] do, though they did not do so before; so it is vain to argue or draw inferences against the usage of the time.”