It’s time for a paradigm shift – on so many levels!

If you’re supporting a network aimed at transforming systems, you need tools that are aligned and resonate with the conditions and principles that generate transformation.

You need adaptive tools, that allow for emergence, are dynamic and multi-dimensional.

Tools that help shift your network’s collective focus to interconnectedness, intersubjectivity, and complexity. Tools that enable you to generate the system-level insights you need to accelerate and amplify your collective impact.

sumApp Changes Everything!

Old-school social network analysis (SNA) tools are so. . . anti-emergent. And top-down-ish.

Doing an old-school SNA is like jumping off a cliff. It’s a big commitment and a big cost and once you jump, you can’t change your mind. You end up with a static snapshot of a moment in time – so you have to get that moment perfect from the start.

And then if you want to make a new snapshot at a future time, you have to make everyone start all over again and re-do everything they did the time before.

They're built on stable-system assumptions, using a product-development paradigm, when what you need is an emergent process, reflecting complex-system dynamics.

If you operate from closed-system/stable-system assumptions with logic models, SMART goals and predictability - AND if you have the top-down power to force everyone to participate, like in a dominant-culture organization, it kind of works.

But change networks function differently. And if your tools don't reflect that difference, they drag you backward and undermine the shift in everyone's thinking that's trying to emerge.

That old-school approach can be a hard sell with groups of people you can't control and who don't yet see the value in participating. Plus, that's just not how emergence, adaptive practices, and shared-learning processes work.

Old-school SNA maps also put the emphasis on analysis (which has its place, but is built on a process of separation and reduction. It re-inforces non-transformational thinking). They're designed by 'experts', to inform leaders about how to take advantage of and/or engineer the existing social structure.

They're not amenable to synthesis, transparency, fostering self-organizing, shared learning or adaptive action. And we think they should be.

We think that if you ask people to share data about themselves, they should have a choice whether or not to participate. They should be able to see - upfront - how it's going to be used, and the use of it should primarily be to bring value to the people sharing their data and to the network's goals as a whole.

Since SNA tools were first developed, visualization platforms (such as Kumu, Graph Commons and Polinode, as well as an abundance of coding libraries) have evolved in the direction we were wanting. They're accessible to everyone online, interactive, multi-dimensional, engaging, and they don't require that end users know math jargon or network science jargon to interact with the interface.

But gathering network data to present in those visualization platforms was still a big challenge. The kind of data we were looking for was data that isn't inferred from online behavior (i.e. following on Twitter doesn't tell us anything about your real-life relationship). Data that isn't extrapolated from commonalities (i.e. - just because we have a connection to 'writing', doesn't mean we have a connection to one another). Data that isn't based on the few relationships among others that you're personally aware of (because there's no way anyone can know personally about all the other significant relationships in a network). We wanted to be able to ask everyone in the network directly, to tell us about their own interpersonal/ inter-organizational relationships.

It wasn't hard conceptually - to do what we did.

But it was sort of hard technically - because our underlying principles are different from the normal assumptions of software development. Especially in the beginning - we were always going against the grain of what our developers thought we wanted.

There wasn't (and still isn't) another tool out there that enabled us to do what we wanted to do. There ARE other SNA tools, but none of them are built according to the principles that mattered to us.

And that's why we built sumApp. The data-gathering tool for a new paradigm, informed by and designed to align with new-paradigm principles.

Your network will LOVE it!

It’s the easiest tool you’ll ever meet for getting your network members to map their own connections.

Our initial priorities for sumApp were:

While we were at it, we changed some things that had always annoyed us about other survey tools:

But we didn't stop with easy and 'Evergreen'!

All along, we've learned from our own mapping experience, listened to the needs of our custom mapping clients, paid attention to our sumApp-using customers requests, and continued to develop the features the field has asked for.

Eventually we realized:

Something new and unexpected had emerged out of our focus on making an adaptive process easier – but not everyone recognized that fact.

We noticed that even though we had made a different kind of mapping process possible, most of our customers and clients were still trying to fit themselves into the old-school non-iterative approach.

The tools had changed in ways we thought increased the potential for transformation, but when people used the old Social Network Analysis language, they stimulated the same old not-quite-emergent process. So we decided to come up with new words for what we were doing. It needed a label that signaled:

  • This is different
  • It’s a process, not a product
  • It’s about co-creation and shared learning, not about expert-driven analysis and recommendations
  • It’s about enabling everyone to think systemically together, not extracting some metrics that help us social engineer things.

We call this newly-emerged approach to mapping: Social System Mapping

sumApp makes you a Social System mapping Rock Star!


All accounts start out as a 30 day free trial of Tier II.

Upgrade in 'My Account', or let it revert to Tier I at the end of the month.

No credit card needed to start trial.




Tier I
Free up to three projects

Up to 1,500 members/survey takers per project

  • Kumu-ready data structure

  • Graph Commons-ready data structure

  • Add Members with CSV Import

  • Multiple data output formats

    (JSON, CSV)

  • Evergreen

  • Three kinds of email templates

  • Opt-in Form

  • In-App editing of fields

  • 'Bio' & photo input

  • Merge profiles

  • Member connections panel

  • Member preferences

  • Connection options are customizable

  • Time Tagging

  • Embed Kumu map directly in sumApp members page

Tier II
$151 project monthly | 3 projects $38/month | 5 projects $53/month | 10 projects $83/month | 20% OFF Annually | 30 days free No credit card needed!

Everything in Tier I



  • Optional custom survey

Tier III
$33 1 project monthly | 3 projects $83/month | 5 projects $116/month | 10 projects $182/month | 20% OFF Annually | 30 days free No credit card needed!

Everything in Tier II



  • Multi-Modal Connections

  •  Import Pre-Existing Data

  • Customizable CSS - Multiple Pre-Made Themes   

  • Mailchimp api integration

  • Terms of Agreement

Tier IV
$45 1 project monthly | 3 projects $113/month | 5 projects $158/month | 10 projects $248/month | 20% OFF Annually | 30 days free No credit card needed!

Everything in Tier III



  • Dual Elements

  • Organization-friendly language

  • Custom survey-based filter

  • Email a sub-set of your population

  • Import connections from one project into another one