In the private equity world, it’s all about the deal. When a major deal is closed, it is rightly celebrated by the team that worked hard to make it happen, as it should be. But after the champagne corks are popped and accolades traded, it’s time for the real work to begin, and this is where trouble often starts. A myriad of issues in the newly acquired firm suddenly crop up, including operational issues. The PE executives who did the deal are on to other opportunities, and these operational problems get passed from one person to another in the portfolio company’s management team – a classic case of “hot potato.” And this unproductive cycle continues as the clock keeps ticking toward the eventual sale of the company in three to five years, when the PE firm hopes to receive a solid return on its investment. In our work with PE firms and their portfolio companies, we have seen this scenario play out time and again. By failing to fully attend to the operational improvement aspects of the deal, PE firms are unintentionally undermining the value of their acquisitions—all too many PE firms focus on quick, short term EBITDA gains and stable market share growth to help define success, but many are ultimately disappointed by the value at exit, knowing that it could have been greater had they been able to tackle all the opportunities for improvement.