The late Steve Jobs once spoke about the aftermath of his greatest failure-;getting fired from Apple, the company he'd founded. "I didn't see it then," he admitted, "but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me."

"The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again--less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life." This insight, shared after Jobs returned to lead Apple, upends typical ideas about success and failure.

What if failure was the key to success?

Astro Teller, who heads X, Google's invention laboratory, has built failure into the process of discovery there. His teams spend much of their time finding out what doesn't work. He explains, "Teams kill their ideas as soon as the evidence is on the table because they're rewarded for it. They get applause from their peers." Teller is describing a process that produces creativity because the teams are always in search of a better way. He's proud of his designation as "the father of modern failure."