Collaboration: A Model Designed for Innovation

Seth Richtsmeier

Team building and collaboration offer significant benefits for any organization. From effective problem solving to skill and knowledge sharing, collaboration helps businesses create products that better meet consumer needs.

Doug Laube, CEO of IDM, says, “Teambuilding is more than putting the best people in a position to do their best work. It’s about getting a dynamic group of personalities to work together toward a clear picture of success.”

Whether it’s through specialization, objectivity, or capital expenditure savings, business leaders stand to realize countless advantages by applying the principles of collaboration to their product development efforts.

There is, however, a right and a wrong way to build teams and to collaborate. To be successful, all players must be aligned around the vision and fully committed to the overall product experience. Independently, teambuilding and collaboration are not enough. That’s why Doug created a model for IDM that includes both collaboration and leadership. Unlike conventional industrial design firms, engineering firms, or contract manufacturers, IDM builds integrated, seamless teams and then leads them to success.

IDM takes an active role within each client’s organization—driving collective focus on the product experience. Rather than simply sourcing project contributors, the IDM team shows up as a unified, monolithic capability, developing original ideas from concept to manufacturing and distribution. It’s a strategic model that deliberately mirrors the product development lifecycle.

Ultimately, these integrated teams work as extensions of an organization’s vision, adding value throughout every stage of the product development lifecycle—and producing a difference the end user can see and feel.

The Right (and Wrong) Ways to Collaborate

The unfortunate reality for product-focused businesses is that the product development lifecycle is inherently riddled with conflicts. Contract designers, engineers, and manufacturers each have their own competencies and points of view—which can result in conflicting priorities.

Business leaders often lack the resources or interest in navigating and negotiating these contractor relationships. But without strong leadership over the entire product development lifecycle, they risk compromising the product experience.

Collaborating the wrong way

Organizations risk ineffective collaboration when they gather a collection of independent contractors or temporary workers who don’t share the product vision.

Similarly, hiring an assembly of independent contractors—each with their own focus—presents the risk of compromising the product experience.

The goal of collaboration should never be a linear, siloed system of communication where one competency talks to the other. Instead, all competencies must talk with each other throughout, while leadership initiates and guides the conversation even when it’s difficult.

Collaborating the right way

With an integrated approach, IDM closes these traditional gaps and provides the glue that holds the product development lifecycle together—aligning contractors around the product experience and creating a mature product development capability focused on results.

The IDM model doesn’t eliminate conflict. In fact, Doug believes healthy, outcome-oriented conflict is essential to innovation. So instead, IDM provides the checks and balances that ensure every decision adds value and never compromises the product’s integrity.

Design leadership gives clients the confidence that comes from experience, insight, perspective, maturity, passion, and dedication to making the right solutions.


Why Collaborate with IDM?

While effective teambuilding is a vital, the cornerstone of collaboration is strong leadership. Through IDM, Doug leverages more than 35 years of relationships and experience to create integrated teams and lead them through the product development lifecycle.

The advantages of IDM’s design leadership and collaboration include:


“Collaboration shouldn’t be an excuse, but rather a benefit,” Laube believes. “We’re not selling collaboration to hide the fact that we don’t have a big staff. It’s the right way to be agile.”

By staying lean and nimble, IDM is always ready to tackle any kind of challenge and create unique product experiences organizations are after.

When approached to assist with a massive UX/UI project, for example, the IDM team recognized an opportunity to improve the overall product experience—from the physical product shell and touch screen to the user’s interaction with the software.

Calling on his extensive relationships with top industry executives, Doug sourced the best people possible for the job and won the engagement by showing up with a fully integrated team of experts.


IDM identifies opportunities the same way company founders and CEOs do. Paired with Doug’s experience and business acumen, IDM enables leaders to establish new revenue streams, extend product lines, and add value throughout each stage of the product lifecycle.

AMX is just one example of IDM’s dedication to innovation. The team helped AMX develop several products which have exponentially increased the company’s stock price, successfully created new revenue streams, and helped realize the CEO’s vision of “owning the conference room” by pioneering innovative AV control technologies. The result is a collaboration spanning more than 25 years.


When a product delivers on the brand promise through a unique and engaging experience, the resulting connection is priceless. In Doug’s experience, products that fail to engage and connect lack integrity. Somewhere along the way, the vision was clouded, the promise was watered down, and the product’s voice was muted. Design leadership is solely focused on preserving the product’s integrity, voice, and soul.

Working with AV technology leader Biamp to develop their innovative Parlé tabletop microphone, Doug knew the design of the product had to tell a story the internal technology could not. The solution was to build a smaller, thinner, more sophisticated case that required a smaller-than-ever assembly. Despite their initial pushback, Doug empowered Biamp’s internal engineers to ignore convention and come up with answers. The result was an award-winning product that delivered on the brand’s promise of innovative conference room tech.

For Biamp’s Desono speakers, IDM pushed the external design team to come up with bold new forms that disrupted the category. The concepts exceeded the CEO’s expectations—inspiring him to expand his vision and launch more than one product.

This ongoing collaboration with Biamp exemplifies how IDM lets nothing get in the way of developing the right product. By refusing to take “no” for an answer, Doug’s team pushes for creative solutions to the inevitable problems that arise—and presents leadership with options, not obstacles.

Compromises made from fear, lack of focus, or limited leadership subtract value and diminish the product experience. To maintain a product’s integrity, IDM drives trade-offs rather than compromises—encouraging team members and executives to make choices based on what’s right for the product while adding or retaining value along the way.


IDM: Collaboration That Drives Innovation

For product-driven businesses, innovation has become quite the buzzword. But at the concept’s core, innovation requires companies to find new products (and even new business models) to compete and win in a new economy.

For real innovation to happen, business leaders must embrace product development as more than a service to be contracted out—they must establish a culture that leverages collaboration to go places they wouldn’t get on their own. By providing design leadership for integrated, seamless teams, IDM offers true collaboration that brings growth, change, value, and bold new ideas.

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Seth Richtsmeier
Seth Richtsmeier is an SEO professional and freelance writer with a curiosity for the business of design and a passion for all things digital marketing.

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Anne Lewis
Quality Assurance

Anne likes things neat and tidy. As an avid gardener, she knows a pristine landscape doesn’t happen by chance—there’s always someone pruning, watering, and tending to the details. Anne is that person for IDM. “I shape things,” she says, “often behind the scenes, to make sure we deliver what we promise.”

At IDM, Anne works to “make excellence a habit” by overseeing our ISO certification program. She also helps cultivate a culture focused on customer satisfaction—whether that “customer” is internal or external. With her self-described “relentless smile” and what Frank Lloyd Wright calls “an unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen,” Anne keeps us alert, on our toes, and bringing our very best each day. “I love working with bright people who are passionate about what they do,” she says.

When she’s not digging in the dirt, you might find Anne nurturing her love of reading at the local library.