Practicing Theory in Teams: Techno|Theory Deathmatch

Learn a gaming technique for building a collaborative theory practice with cross-functional teams engaged in technology and innovation projects

  • INSTRUCTORS: Mike Griffin (UX Researcher, Google), Tiffany Romain (Senior User Experience Researcher, Intel), Lyn Jeffrey (Distinguished Fellow, Institute for the Future)
  • ENROLLMENT: 25, sign up during or after conference registration
  • SCHEDULE: Tuesday, Oct 4, 3–7 pm Pacific | Wednesday, Oct 5, 9am–1pm AEDT convert time zone


Bringing rich theoretical frameworks about the relationship between people and emerging technologies is a key value that ethnographers and social scientists bring to business and organizations. But in the normal course of projects and product cycles, there are few opportunities to practice theory and link it to collective project goals and outcomes. This is particularly challenging in cross-functional teams, where disciplinary training and work practices can vary considerably. We’re often left struggling as individuals to carve out “extra-curricular” time to bring essential concepts and frameworks to bear on our contributions.

This tutorial offers a novel, collaborative game for mobilizing social science theory in everyday work. You’ll work in teams to adopt personas of specific theorists and compete to surface insights relevant to an ongoing arena of technology development. Each phase, from initial game design, through prototyping play, to the final event, supports the collective practice of theory, brings hidden assumptions to light, and provides actionable value to our daily work activities.

In addition to getting to know and think with other brilliant EPIC attendees, you’ll learn new ways of framing technology and product development challenges with theory, and reflect on ways this game might be adapted to the constraints of your organization, including mobilizing it for cross-functional partner engagement.

This tutorial emphasizes the view that theory is and can only be part of practice. That is to say, to practice theory means to engage in specific activities (reading, writing, annotating, listening, talking, thinking, arguing, explaining, etc.) in the course of elevating one’s ability to make sense of the world. It is a fallacy that theory can be something that transcends these empirical practices, located in an autonomous realm of ideas.


  • No prior knowledge or experience is required. The game format is welcoming to both novice participants and those with more extensive academic and social theory training, since the goal is to generate and articulate value for collective action with diverse teams and stakeholders.
  • Please participate on a laptop.
  • Approximately one hour of reading will help to ensure you’re able to fully benefit from the experience.


Michael Griffin, Staff UX Researcher, Google: Mike is a researcher with a background in design and social science. He’s brought ethnography and other qualitative approaches to bear in early-phase development of technology products in a wide range of domains at Meta, Amazon, Ricoh, and SRI.

Tiffany Romain, Senior User Experience Researcher, Intel: Tiffany is a Senior User Experience Researcher at Intel where she focuses on the intersection of emerging technology and education. She has a background in anthropology and has worked in a range of domains including retail, telemedicine, and remote collaboration.

Lyn Jeffrey, Distinguished Fellow, Institute for the Future: Lyn leads IFTF’s Foresight Essentials program, delivering professional foresight training to public and private sector practitioners around the world. A cultural anthropologist who collects stories of change from around the world and tracks the new social practices, her core interest is in exploring how people make sense of the rapidly shifting world around them.

Michael Griffin

Michael Griffin

Tiffany Romain

Tiffany Romain

Lyn Jeffrey

Lyn Jeffrey

How to Register

Tutorials are open to EPIC2022 attendees on a first-come, first-served basis. Buy a ticket during conference registration, or add a ticket to your existing registration: