Innovation and disruption are not just terms thrown around the office, but they are setting the stage for internal operations and long term strategy. However, that doesn't mean it's easy. In the finance community, several institutions have created processes and those processes include collaboration and the ability to fail.

In his 1964 opinion about why the film The Lovers was not obscene, Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart offered a memorable statement on his own legal threshold for obscenity: "I know it when I see it."

That mindset -- "I know it when I see it" -- has been embraced by CIOs when it comes to innovation. In the CIO Executive Council's 2016 IT Innovation Survey, 56 percent of the IT leaders polled said they believe that the definition of innovation changes according to the situation and application. And 24 percent said that there is no specific definition for innovation at all, and that it can only be observed through its impact and delivered value.

With innovation at a premium in every IT shop, these nuanced responses bring up larger questions: How do you pursue a target that's constantly moving? How do you strive for innovation if it's undefinable?

According to two CIOs, the secret to capturing lightning in a bottle is making sure you have the right bottle. By creating an environment where collaboration is paramount and failure is acceptable, IT leaders are more likely to become more innovative, however they define innovation.

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