I suspect what I will take most from my experience working at COBE is how the firm emulates a design studio you'd find in school. Only far more effective than any other studio I've had. The office is centered around iteration and constant visualization. The tools are the same as any office or studio in school. The difference is how iterations are presented, compared, and investigated.
The office predominantly uses rhino for the design phase to generate fast iterative 3d model sketches, then shifts to Revit for CDs. Physical models are made early on for massing studies. They are rough, far from perfect, but admittedly photograph well because they are white foam (easy to photoshop on the fly). They are used as a design tool. They aren't meant for show.
I spent the past week generating facade studies in rhino and vray for the project I am currently on. One struggle I had in grad school was when I moved to the computer I never knew how to show progress to my studio professors. We would huddle around the computer screen and I would orbit around my messy model and I would assure them I was testing out different ideas. Now I recognize how it should have been done. You need to set up different views early on with a number of viewports opened (not just the default four). From perspectives to axons to orthographic drawings. Then produce versions to test different ideas. But stop and record your progress, render each view from the same vantage and compare. Print, pin-up, reflect.
COBE uses indesign as the thread to keep a constant record of a project's design progress. I have indesign open all day, I chapter different design studies, and populate pages with renderings and drawings I produce throughout the day. Then we print them and update our wall constantly. This creates an open dialogue with the firm as a whole, with the project team clarifying our individual roles and enables the firm to be set-up to have rotating pin-ups with Dan, the Creative Director and founder of the firm as well as our Project Director. We publish booklets at the end of each week to keep the narrative in motion for each project. It is an effective way to have something to show for and discuss at the end of each day.