In this paper we empirically investigate the tactics and realities of strategic work, and develop implications for contemporary strategic management theory of our findings. Using metis – amoral practical wisdom- as a practice based frame of reference, we critically evaluate the claims and formal application of established strategic management techniques. We explore metis-informed strategic work through a longitudinal, intensive field study in a large, government funded and mandated organisation in the UK. We reveal patterns of activity associated with the application of metis, and suggest cumulative long term impacts in the case organisation of the habitual use of metis-informed activity by practitioners at all levels. Our focus on metis-informed activity suggests that there is much potential for re-evaluation of the limitations and possibilities of strategic management theory and practice when the role of practical wisdom in everyday life is brought to the fore.