Fermentation shouldn't be overwhelming (except for a handful of styles known for it). That's often a sign that it was pitched and/or started fermenting too warm. Lager ferments ought to be visually underwhelming compared to most ales.
The "start warm, wait for signs, then cool a lager to the right temp" technique is an attempt to compensate for underpitching the yeast. It can cause flavor problems. If your pitch rate is good (1.50 or better), having the wort a few degrees cooler than the initial ferment temp and letting it come up is the way to go for the cleanest result.
Good Temp Control -----> Happy Yeast ------> Tasty Brew