Don’t launch, release.

There are two terms I hate in our industry.

Launch Date

The first is the dreaded “launch date”. Every time I see it on a calendar I think of a monkey in a helmet, strapped to some 60’s-style missile blasting into orbit, and subsequently exploding well before then. We’ve tried very hard here over the past months to replace the term with the word ‘release’. Launch = violent ending, release = bye, I love you, and see you soon.


The second term I choke on is “postmortem”, used to describe a team getting together after a project ‘launch’ to discuss the piles of wet ash covering the floor. Every time I’ve participated in one, it’s been a project manager of questionable utility leading a team of disgruntled programmers on a futile hunt for those ghostly wouldabeens. What do we use here? Honestly, we have no other word, but I think term “release follow-up” suffices and gives things a more transitional, and less death-like timbre.

Language makes a difference. A simple adjustment to the words describing a teams milestones go a long way towards making a project’s cadence a tribute to accomplishment rather than an ode to suffering. Of course, if you’re literally shipping dead bodies into outer space, then by all means, launch it.

2 responses to “Don’t launch, release.

  1. I will mention that NASA still uses the term "launch" when deploying shuttles with real human beings in them into space, human beings they work around the clock to ensure are sent safely, can be communicated with during the entirety of their voyage, and who will be returned safely to the comfort of their home planet. If it's good enough for them, it's good enough for me.

  2. Hey Anon –

    There's no such thing as A/B testing in NASA's vocabulary when dealing with getting humans into space. I hope.

    We stop short of continuous integration to production servers for our client websites for various reasons (legality, client approvals, to name a couple). However, the associated stress with 'we have one chance to get this right' tied to a launch date is what we work to alleviate. This isn't a space shuttle, nor is there a problem with bringing it back to earth quickly to make an adjustment, which is vastly different than NASA's stance.


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