Doing the work and getting the job done are two different aspects. When working in a team, balancing both aspects is crucial to ensure tasks are optimally designed and efficiently completed. Effective team management is a must to run errands around the company! Although I have all the right to brag about our Yellow slice team leads, what is the harm in taking a little help and advice, especially when the help comes from the best? So, allow us to introduce you to our extraordinary Yellow Insight Speaker.

Kaashif Ahmed:

Meet Kaashif Ahmed, an accomplished design leader with a remarkable 18-year career. He has committed his expertise to bridging the gap between intuitive user experiences and impactful product objectives. With a strong background in haptic feedback, digital asset management, and innovative design strategies, Kaashif is leading a talented team at Greytip Software. His unique approach focuses on creating minimalistic and practical design solutions that enhance user engagement and retention.

Kaashif’s fantastic knack for creating a comfortable atmosphere really made our interaction even more engaging and captivating. The design team leads and managers shared their daily work-life strategies and challenges in managing their teams. We asked many questions and shared plenty of jokes, making this Yellow Insight Session incredibly enjoyable. Let’s distil the key takeaways from this discussion, offering a blueprint for managing design teams across different levels of seniority.

Uphill Struggle of Everyday Chores:

The session commenced with a discussion of an insightful exploration of a design team manager’s day-to-day tasks, devising weekly tasks, collaborating with senior designers, keeping tabs on ongoing projects, and gearing up for upcoming ones. It won’t be wrong to say the vital aspect of the job is exceeding client expectations and skillfully resolving any escalations that may or may not arise.

A familiar challenge design managers face is aligning the team’s output with client expectations. What the team presents often does not meet the client’s vision, leading to escalations. Managers must train junior designers to brainstorm solutions and take regular updates, ensuring that the team’s work aligns with short-term and long-term goals.

Aligning the team’s output with the client’s expectations is one of the most common challenges managers face. We could relate to Kaashif’s statement that any manager must train the junior designers to brainstorm solutions, take regular updates, and ensure that short-term and long-term goals align. But there was a question lingering in our silence that Kaashif could see, which was:


Our speaker delineated the daily tasks of managers into three separate hats:

  1. Strategic hat: This concerns thinking ahead and charting the path forward. It requires harmonising design goals with business objectives and ensuring design decisions propel business success.
  2. Operational hat: This is where creativity meets precision as we collaborate with talented designers and engineers to achieve flawless results. We’ll explore user stories, data integration, and optimising processes for maximum efficiency. That’s the Bread and Butter, guys!
  3. Team Nurturing hat: This hat focuses on empowering the team to improve and creating a welcoming space for designers to flourish and enhance their skills.

Without the right direction and roadmap, even the most fantastic ideas can struggle to become reality. But our speaker is fully prepared to blow your mind. Don’t believe me? Get this:

Budding a Design Point of View (POV):

Design management involves developing a solid design POV, impacting business decisions through the lens of a designer. Encouraging teams to question and validate assumptions quickly speeds up the design process and ensures solutions are grounded in real user needs. Kaashif gave a great example with the modular shelving system designed by Dieter Rams, which revolutionised retail displays by offering customisable options catering to individual needs.

Building Velocity:

Design Velocity is all about delivering quality work within a specific timeframe. Measuring lead time and cycle time helps identify process bottlenecks. Simplifying workflow stages and allowing partial task completion can improve efficiency and reduce waiting times for engineering teams.


Kaashif emphasised the importance of deliberately nurturing creativity. Encouraging designers to maintain a “second brain” of notes and ideas helps them connect concepts and develop innovative solutions. Workshops like Crazy8, Scamper, and Round Robin are excellent tools for overcoming creative blocks and fostering collaborative problem-solving.

Standardise Creativity:

Implementing some practices to keep creativity flowing within the team is imperative. Functional CSS and atomic design allow for flexible and ever-evolving design systems, making it easier for the team to get creative. It’s also super helpful to have regular workshops and keep learning from visual libraries to keep those creative juices flowing!

Be Detail-Oriented:

Seasoned designers have a knack for perfecting the little details that truly elevate user experience. Constantly refining and polishing design elements, no matter how small, can bring joy to users and make a product stand out from the crowd. This approach boosts customer satisfaction and keeps the design team inspired and driven.

Queries Put Forth by Our Team Leads:

As the session turned out to be super interesting, our team leads made it even more engaging by asking the right questions at the right time. Here are some of the many questions that our team leads ask to gain insight:

1. Do you use any specific strategy or practice apart from the workshop to help your team continually grow and enhance their skills?

I have already mentioned the workshop as one key element. The second is the concept of a “second brain” or “visual library”. This visual library involves one or two hours daily exploring creative ideas from blogs, Dribbble, articles, or competitors. The key is to record these insights in small notes, highlighting key learnings.

Over time, this practice has helped designers build a comprehensive library. They can then draw connections and develop new creative ideas. For example, a designer exploring glass morphism through YouTube videos applied it to a project with great results, leading to its integration into the product.

So, in addition to the workshop, building a visual library is another crucial practice we follow.

2. How do you effectively build and organise a system for storing notes to enhance semantic memory, allowing you to quickly revisit and utilise information, even if the notes were made years ago?

Here’s what I do when organising your notes to help you remember and use them. First, make sure your notes are relevant to what you’re working on. So, if you’re trying to improve your savings, capture all the tips and advice you come across, whether it’s from TV, chats with friends, or articles you read.

I use whatever tool is handy at the moment—sometimes it’s Apple Notes on my phone, other times it’s just pen and paper, or even a quick clip on Evernote. The important thing is to capture the info quickly. Later, when I have time, I sort these notes into specific folders based on my work. For instance, all my financial savings tips go into a savings folder.

While sorting, I highlight each note to remind myself why it’s important. If a note isn’t relevant to what I’m working on, I archive it. That way, I can always return to it if it becomes useful later.

This method organises my notes and ensures I can easily find and use the information

3. You’ve mentioned moments when people have creative blocks. Regarding general training, what strategies do you use to ensure your team can function effectively without your direct involvement?

Every designer has their own pace and areas where they excel or need improvement. I use this as a general marker to determine what each designer should focus on improving and what they’re already great at. 

For example, a designer with excellent communication skills can continue to build on that. But if they’re shy or not very effective at presenting their work, I help them work on that.

I set quarterly goals for each designer and have monthly one-on-one meetings to check on their progress and alignment with these goals. By the end of the quarter, we review to see if there’s been any quantifiable improvement in their target areas, whether it’s communication skills, UI skills, or something else. It’s all about setting goals and having regular check-ins to help them grow.

4. Given that most of us work remotely, and considering the techniques you mentioned, like workshops, what’s the best method we could use as a team on platforms like Figjam to work effectively together?

You already mentioned it, but using a whiteboard is still one of the best techniques. Honestly, there’s no substitute for getting designers in a room with a big sheet of paper and just having them draw. If it means flying in designers from different parts of India to meet in Bangalore for a few days, it’s worth it for a physical workshop.

For a more consistent remote setup, designers can use iPads. They can sketch during calls and create frames that help visualise ideas. If that’s impossible, tools like Miro, FigJam, or anything that allows freeform sketching work well. I avoid tools that force you into a strict framework, like PowerPoint. Keeping things loose and flexible is the best way to go.


Effective design team management involves a delicate balance of strategic planning, operational efficiency, and continuous team nurturing. By fostering a solid design POV, enhancing process velocity, manufacturing serendipity, and institutionalising creativity, design managers can consistently lead their teams to deliver outstanding results. These insights provide a roadmap for managing design teams and driving innovation in any organisation.

Although the session has ended, the invaluable lessons will continue to inspire us. Kaashif’s personal journey and the insightful session have illuminated the path to nurturing new talent and guiding them toward creativity while fostering our own growth as designers. 

And Kaashif’s session emphasised the significance of note-taking while discussing Mario Puzo’s Godfather. Let’s conclude with a beautiful quote that perfectly encapsulates this:

“Great men are not born great, they grow great.”

Also, Let’s not forget to take note of our speaker’s book recommendation:

Building a Second Brain” by Tiago Forte.

Anyway, Have a joyful time designing and managing!