Current sustainability challenges are increasingly acknowledged to reveal systemic flaws in societal systems such as energy, mobility and agriculture. Adequate solutions then require system innovations and societal transitions. The quest for system innovation is notoriously hard, however: In a polycentric society systemic problems tend to be elusive, and solution strategies are contested. So whereas the quest for system innovation is typically backed by substantive analyses of system pathologies, polycentric perspectives emphasize that the intrinsic properties of an innovation attempt are hardly decisive. Innovation attempts need to be relevant to the targeted actors in the first place.