Bill Lumbergh

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William Lumbergh
Office Space character
Created by Mike Judge
Portrayed by Gary Cole
Nickname(s) Bill
Occupation Vice President, Initech

William "Bill" Lumbergh is a fictional character, who appeared initially in the Milton animated shorts, and later was portrayed by Gary Cole in the 1999 film Office Space. A caricature of corporate management, Lumbergh is a division Vice President of the software company Initech, and serves as the main antagonist of the film. He drives a blue Porsche 911 SC with a vanity license plate "MY PRSHE". He wears a two-tone shirt and suspenders with a buckle belt - a fashion faux pas - as well as a college class ring. He is also almost never seen without a coffee mug in hand.

Lumbergh is a micromanager who is focused on pointless paperwork, notably TPS reports. He has been described as "the antithesis of the motivational management leadership ideal".[1] He greets subordinates with an unenthusiastic "what's happening?", and when asking an employee to do an unpleasant task, starts the sentence with, "I'm gonna need you to", or "if you could go ahead", as well as ending these requests with "that'd be great" and "mmmkay?" A Wharton Journal article said that the character "brilliantly exposed the emptiness of linguistic conventions at work."[2] Social historian Joe Moran writes that Lumbergh's "non-confrontational" communication style "masks the reality of management coercion".[3]

In the film, Lumbergh works with manager Dom Portwood (another micromanager, though less extreme than Lumbergh), and consultants Bob Slydell and Bob Porter, to find ways to downsize the company. This Socratic dialogue interaction elicits a frank critique of Lumbergh's shortcomings from Bob Porter and Bob Slydell. Lumbergh is tacitly presented as a task-driven micromanager as opposed to an opportunity-driven motivator. The last visual and audio cue ends with Bob Slydell turning into inquisitor of how Lumbergh spends his time, as Bob and Bob had done with the other employees, and Lumbergh simply comments "...yeah..." as the scene cuts away. The implication is that Lumbergh drives pointless busywork that does little for employee motivation and productivity.

Cole later reprised Lumbergh on the Family Guy episode "The Father, the Son, and the Holy Fonz" in a cameo appearance, as well as appearing in ads for State Farm and HipChat. Lumbergh's "that'd be great" catchphrase has also morphed into a popular internet meme.


  1. ^ Green, Doyle (2010). The American Worker on Film: A Critical History, 1909-1999. McFarland & Company. pp. 191–92. ISBN 978-0-7864-4734-3.  Excerpt available on Google Books.
  2. ^ Cole, Douglas (2007-02-12). "Why we should remember Bill Lumbergh". Archived from the original on 12 March 2007. Retrieved 2007-02-06. 
  3. ^ Moran, Joe (2005). Reading the Everyday. Taylor & Francis. p. 38. ISBN 978-0-415-31708-5.  Excerpt available at Google Books.

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