The evolution of the Royal Navy in Victoria's time:
The Admiralty couldn’t depend on past experience for guidance, as everything they’d done for hundreds of years was now undecided: what kind of ships do you need to build? How will they be armed? How will they be armoured? How will they be propelled? Bureaucracies are, by nature, not well equipped to face challenges like this. The Royal Navy, from the late 1860′s until the late 1880′s struggled with finding the correct answer, or combination of answers, to meet the needs of the day.
I admit that my interest in British Imperial history fades very quickly after 1815 and only starts to pick up again in the 1870′s, and what little I’d retained of the reading I’d done left me with much disdain for the obvious pattern of muddle and stop-gap planning that clearly defined the Royal Navy’s approach to maintaining the fleet during that time period. I was very wrong in my assumptions, but I was far from alone.
The article has broader lessons on the nature of technological change and how to cope with it.