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My Silver Toolbox

April 2015 Presentation
Michael Keeling (IBM Watson Group)

Six presenters discuss the concept of a Silver Toolbox, approaches to adopting and teaching software engineering methods, and what it takes to be a software architect.


Software Engineering Institute




A few years ago, I started ending my presentations and workshops with the phrase "I hope that this is another tool you can put in your silver toolbox." The idea of the "silver toolbox" comes from a 2009 quote from Mel Rosso-Llopart of Carnegie Mellon University: "I can’t give you a silver bullet, but I can give you a silver toolbox!" I doubt Mel even remembers saying this. It was in the middle of a random lecture during the TSPi course he teaches—but I do remember. And that simple phrase concisely describes my entire approach to adopting and teaching software engineering methods and practices.

When I travel on-site with a customer, I always bring a "coach’s bag"—a cheap Vivisimo handbag filled with various tools I nearly always need to facilitate workshops, enhance ad hoc design sessions, create documentation, or generally improve discussions. In my mind, I keep a tool kit of experiences—methods, bits of knowledge, nuggets of wisdom, strategies, and catch phrases.

These are the tools I have in my "Silver Toolbox." What’s in yours? Join me along with Simon Brown, Will Chaparro, George Fairbanks, Ari Font, and Gail Harris as we explore some of the tools of the trade and learn what it takes to be a software architect.