Allied Mills is part of Associated British Foods Plc, and forms part of the milling and baking division. They operate flour mills situated in Tilbury, Manchester and Belfast, supplying group bakeries throughout the country, and supporting household bread brands such as Kingsmill and Sunblest. Their goal was to empower the organisation to identify year on year savings and institute a culture that would continue to drive improvements and savings.



Allied Mills partnered with Thinking Focus to realign the organisation to have a Continuous Improvement (C.I.) mindset. Initially they were looking at investing in a formal Lean and Six Sigma programme, as they believed that they had done everything they could to optimise their plants. However, across the business there was evidence of people operating in silos, and a fragmented attitude towards C.I. with a perception that C.I. was purely for the manufacturing process. This lead to people believing that no further savings were possible.  Their culture was not one where C.I. was central to everyone’s role.


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Allied Mills and Thinking Focus developed a programme which included cross-functional teams tackling seven business projects. It was important from the outset to ensure that the senior leadership team were aligned in not just their understanding of the process and projects but also in terms of their commitment.

The senior leadership team sponsored the key projects and the project groups were equipped with new mental models and tools to help them identify and drive change. The project groups were then challenged to apply these new tools in real time across the business in relation to specific areas that they wished to improve over a 90-day period.  This created an environment where people felt empowered, took ownership and got stuck in to make changes happen.

The impact was a real cultural shift.  The project teams became enablers of C.I. not the owners of it and were able to provide expertise and solutions to others across the organisation.

In just 90-days they have not only identified over £500k of savings across the business, but improved engagement, streamlined processes, and freed up almost 30 hours a week by removing duplication, giving a return on investment or more than 10 times the initial investment.

Together Thinking Focus and Allied Mills are now taking the same approach to another 80 people across the business over the next 2 years, driving further improvements, saving more money and further changing and developing the organisational culture.

“Thinking Focus have helped us to develop a culture that embraces Continuous Improvement, a culture where everyone is involved, empowered and accountable.  We have tools that are repeatable and can be used time and time again to help us keep driving forwards.”

Steve Britton, Head of Business Improvement