This is an interesting way of recruiting executives, but after reading this article it makes perfect sense. A startup company will give any executive joining it a whole host of challenges, not to mention the ability to make mistakes some of which could be costly enough to wipe out the new business!
CEO of Blackberry, John Chen, is particularly interested in hiring those people who have made mistakes and his rationale for this is that by having been exposed to failure, these people will have a better insight and understanding of how a startup business operates. This makes it less likely for them to be discouraged or put off by the turbulence they will experience along the way. I have to agree with John that a startup is not a light-hearted venture. Having been involved in one myself, I know that it involves a realistic and adaptable approach, that the vision will change and/or adapt, and also that you need to be prepared to hold your hands up when you make mistakes - many leaders may find this difficult. So, I agree and can see logic in John’s hiring process here, albeit not often a traditional way of hiring!
Here's the thing: it's OK to make mistakes and to fail. Every successful person I've met has told me about the many failures in their life--both personal and professional.