The cynefin framework has a number of suggestions about how to transform chaos into simplicity.
One example cynefin adherents frequently cite is the “Magic Roundabout” in Swindon.
The problem in Swindon (UK) was “a motorist’s nightmare which routinely failed to handle the volume of traffic which converged on it from five directions.” The fix was to “combine two roundabouts in one – the first the conventional, clockwise variety and the second, which revolved inside the first, sending traffic anti-clockwise,” like this:
I don’t know whether anyone on the Nassau County Police Department (in New York) is familiar with the cynefin framework, but it was the first thing I thought of when a colleague sent me the picture below.
As one Hurricane Sandy consequence, the intersection had no working traffic signal lights. Instead of using police officers to direct (i.e., “order”) traffic, Nassau police officers improvised a traffic circle, encouraging drivers to self organize. Their solution changed a chaotic intersection into a (comparatively) simple one.
Theory and practice meet again, even if passing in the dark