Without 'conditional branching', the ability to mechanise the word IF, the grandest calculator would be no more than a glorified adding machine.
It might be thought of as an assembly line, everything being laid down from start to finish, and there being no possibility of interference in the process once started.
The facility of 'conditional branching', in this model, would be analogous to specifying not only the routine tasks of the workers, but the testing, deciding and controlling operations of the management.
Babbage was well-placed to perceive this idea, his book On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures being the foundation of modern management.
These ideas were a hundred years ahead of their time, and were never to be embodied in working machinery during Babbage's lifetime.
Government funding did not solve the problems created by his grossly over-ambitious specifications; the project was not advanced by Babbage's contempt for committees, administrators, and other scientists;
nor did his own efforts to bring mechanical engineering to an entirely new standard, and his absorption in every theoretical and practical aspect of the work, overcome these difficulties.