Here are the top news stories in talent & organization from this week.

Millennials in insurance need to build a personal brand

Robbie Thompson, executive director of the Professional Liability Underwriting Society, believes that millennials have much to offer the insurance industry with their entrepreneurial spirit and preference for innovation. But in order to enhance their opportunities in the industry, he believes they must build their personal brands. “This industry is so much about who you know, what you know and how much others trust you. In a business with such an emphasis on relationships, personal brand building is going to continue to be extremely important, and even more so in the future,” Thompson writes in Insurance Journal. “New technologies provide more ways to build your brand than ever before. They also provide opportunities to connect with people from far distances.” Thompson says “simply being seen and heard in the social sphere” is not enough for building a personal brand. “Young professionals can share their knowledge and expertise through speaking at industry functions; writing for industry blogs and publications; or being presenters on webinars or blogs,” he writes.

Machine learning a priority for CIOs

According to a new survey by Service Matters, 90 percent of CIOs are already using or have plans to integrate machine learning into their digital transformation efforts. Chris Bedi highlights the key findings of the research in this blog post: Seventy-two percent of CIOs are leading the digitalization efforts, 63 percent of CIOs intend to invest in machine learning in the next three years, and 40 percent have redefined job descriptions to focus on work with machines. However, Bedi notes that the CIOs surveyed also identified some top challenges. Outdated processes (48 percent), poor data quality (51 percent), and lack of budget (47 percent) were the main obstacles the CIOs quoted. “In the same way that migration to the cloud was a journey, not a task, the adoption of machine learning requires a steady evolution of processes, procedures, roles, skills, and organizational structures. And that requires careful consideration on multiple levels,” Bedi writes.

Major APAC bank provides design-thinking training to startups

Malaysia-based Hong Leong Bank (HLB) has launched a mentorship program with five startup companies, The Edge Markets reports. The program focuses on three key themes: Simplifying banking today, digitizing customer journeys and re-imagining banking for tomorrow. During the three-month partnership project, HLB’s senior managers will mentor the startups in infrastructure development. The bank will also provide them with training from design-thinking experts, so startups can validate their products in the market. “Financial services trends support the notion that working with startups is the way forward,” Domenic Fuda, the bank’s CEO told The Edge Markets. “Partnerships such as this offer various opportunities. They elevate the brand, help productivity and drive differentiated offerings. These in turn aid customer retention and uncover exciting prospects for new revenue streams.”

Power of the paradox as a driver of change

The annual conference of the Agile Consortium of Netherlands will focus on “The Power of Paradox as a Driver for Organizational Change.” Ben Linders interviewed keynote speaker Dick Nijman for InfoQ about the conference’s main theme. “To connect with customers and markets that change very quickly, your organization needs to be flexible, intrinsically motivated to provide the best and constantly on the look-out for improvement. Changes will have to be implemented quickly and with full support,” Nijman told Linders. “Paradoxes are apparent contradictions, with emphasis on ‘apparent’ because on further investigation they do not contradict each other. Organizational change is not always plannable, but we always arrive and mostly on time.” According to Nijman, a successful organizational culture depends on elements such as responsibility, focus, openness, self-reflection, respect, courage, the customer, and organizational interest above the individual.

Eight steps to building an innovation ecosystem 

“Every company must build an innovation ecosystem, which is a repeatable and scalable process for turning creative ideas into profitable business models,” writes Tendayi Viki in this Forbes Leadership blog post. He recommends following these eight steps: 1. Focus on why (leadership must clearly identify the reasons for transformation); 2. Begin with discovery (research frameworks and case studies, but also your own company); 3. Get air-cover (convince executives of the value of change); 4. Executive buy-in is not enough (make allies in middle management); 5. Work with early adopters (identify early adopter business units and work with them); 6. Get an early win (select a high-profile project to demonstrate the success of innovation programs); 7. Be tough on principles, but loose on tactics (prepare to change tactics during the process, but keep principles intact); 8. It’s a battle for hearts and minds (do the hard work of reaching out to the most resistant colleagues to find common ground).

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